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Ghana to receive world's first doses of free Covax vaccines: UNICEF

"These 600,000 Covax vaccines are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, which represent part of the first wave of Covid vaccines headed to several low and middle-income countries," said UNICEF, which organised the shipment from Mumbai, in a joint statement with the WHO.

February 24, 2021 / 01:44 PM IST
(Image: Reuters)

(Image: Reuters)

Ghana is to receive Wednesday the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines from Covax, a global scheme to procure and distribute inoculations for free to poor countries, UNICEF and the World Health Organization said.

"We are pleased that Ghana has become the first country to receive the COVID-19 vaccines from the Covax facility," UNICEF, which organised the shipment from Mumbai, said in a joint statement with the WHO.

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It said the 600,000 doses are part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India, "which represent part of the first wave of COVID vaccines headed to several low and middle-income countries."

The West African nation has recorded 80,759 COVID-19 cases and 582 deaths since the start of the pandemic. These figures are believed to fall short of the real toll as the number of tests is low.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Frontline workers in Ghana are meant to be the first to receive the vaccine.

"In the days ahead, frontline workers will begin to receive vaccines," UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.

"The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin – the ramping up of the largest immunization campaign in history."

Covax, led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), said it would deliver two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines to its members by the end of the year, including 2,412,000 doses to Ghana.

Schools in the country reopened in January after a 10-month closure, but large social gatherings are banned and land and sea borders have remained closed since March 2020.

Ghana's economic growth is expected to plummet this year to its lowest in three decades, to 0.9 percent according to the International Monetary Fund, from 6.5 percent in 2019.

Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.
AFP
first published: Feb 24, 2021 12:58 pm

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