Finally ! This morning, the first doses of Covid-19 vaccines delivered by the Covax device arrived in Ghana, ”wrote Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Twitter. The Director General of WHO, who has been warning for many months about inequalities in access to vaccines in the world, has good reason to be happy. Ghana, a West African country, received on Wednesday February 24 the first global delivery of vaccines funded by the Covax device, which aims to provide low-income countries with their first doses of anti-Covid vaccines. On Monday again, the head of the WHO, in the wake of some leaders, especially African leaders, accused the rich countries of “undermining” this device. “Some rich countries are currently approaching manufacturers to ensure access to additional doses of vaccine, which is having an effect on contracts with Covax,” he said. “The number of doses allocated to Covax has been reduced because of this,” he added.
An important step
As in other countries on the continent, the ceremony is now well established: a plane carrying 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine from the manufacturer Serum Institute of India landed at 7.40 a.m. GMT at Accra airport, where a delegation of the Ghanaian government received them. These doses, shipped by Unicef from Mumbai, “are part of the first wave of Covid vaccines intended for several low and middle income countries,” said a joint statement from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef. “This delivery represents the start of what is expected to be the largest supply and distribution of vaccines in history,” the statement said.
Ghana is the first nation in the world to receive vaccine doses funded by this initiative. This English-speaking West African country has recorded 80,759 cases of coronavirus, including 582 deaths. But these figures are underestimated, say some experts, as in many African countries where the number of tests carried out remains low. Since the end of January, the Head of State has reimposed a ban on festive, cultural gatherings or for certain family events, against the backdrop of an increase in the number of cases. In all, the country is expected to receive 2.4 million doses, Covax said. Health workers on the front line in the fight against the virus will be the first to be vaccinated. At the same time, the Ghanaian authorities have also granted emergency authorization for the use of the Sputnik V vaccine, thus becoming the 31e country to do so and the fifth African state. The Russian vaccine has been approved by the West African country’s health ministry.
Africa still dependent on Covax
Since the start of the pandemic, Africa has officially remained one of the continents least affected by the virus, but most African countries are hit by a second wave which has forced them to return to strict health measures. To help speed up the vaccination of the continent’s 1.3 billion people, the African Union has said it has secured 270 million doses of anti-Covid vaccine to distribute this year. Many countries have turned to China for doses of the Sinopharm vaccine or Russia for Sputnik V in bilateral talks, mBut the reality is that a large majority of them depend heavily on Covax.
Initially, eight months ago, WHO and Gavi believed they could start distributing vaccines to disadvantaged countries, which joined Covax, in January or February, but this deadline has continued to be postponed, hence the concerns in recent weeks. Serum Institute of India boss Adar Poonawalla on Sunday urged countries awaiting supplies to be “patient”, saying he had been ordered to prioritize the “enormous needs” of the country. India.
The Covax system aims to provide anti-Covid vaccines to 20% of the population of nearly 200 participating countries and territories this year, but most importantly it has a funding mechanism that allows 92 low and middle income economies to access in precious doses. It was set up to try to prevent rich countries from monopolizing all the doses of vaccine which are still manufactured in too small quantities to meet global demand. Founded by the WHO, the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Outbreak Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), Covax has reached deals with manufacturers for two billion doses in 2021 and has the potential to ‘buy another billion.
In all in the world, more than 200 million doses of vaccine have been administered, according to a count carried out by AFP from official sources, revealing an over-representation of rich countries: 45% of injections were carried out in countries of the G7, which only account for 10% of the world’s population.