As the global rollout of COVAX vaccines accelerates, the first COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa using COVAX doses began today in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.
These campaigns are the among the first to use doses provided by the COVAX Facility’s Gavi COVAX Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).
The AMC is the COVAX Facility’s mechanism to provide donor-funded vaccines to lower-income countries.
The campaigns in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire follow deliveries to both countries last week with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Côte d’Ivoire 504,000 doses two days later.
Both countries received the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). The vaccine, branded COVISHIELD, was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the World Health Organization on February 15.
H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana said: “Ghana welcomes the arrival of the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVAX AMC as a pathway to ending the acute phase of the pandemic. To maximise the public health benefit of the vaccine, the first doses will be prioritized for health and essential workers, and other at-risk groups. This important milestone will allow Ghana to get back to business, and build back our economy even stronger than before.”
The deliveries mark the start of what will be the largest, most rapid and complex global rollout of vaccines in history.
In total, COVAX aims to deliver at least 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the COVAX AMC.
Confirmation of first-round allocations, covering the majority of the COVAX Facility participants, will be published 2 March 2021.
COVAX doses to date have been delivered by SII to India, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, while Pfizer-BioNTech has delivered doses to the Republic of Korea.
More deliveries by these two manufacturers are planned in the coming days, with 11 million doses in total planned to be delivered over the next seven days. In addition, AstraZeneca is set to commence shipments this week.
COVAX, the overarching effort to accelerate development and access to COVID vaccines, is co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO) working in partnership with UNICEF as well as the World Bank, manufacturers and civil society organizations, and others.
“This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “It’s gratifying to see the fruit of that labour. But success is still to come. This is only the beginning of what COVAX was set up to achieve. We have a lot left to do to realize our vision to start vaccination in all countries within the first 100 days of the year. There are just 40 days left.”
“As vaccination begins in Côte D’Ivoire, less than a year after COVID-19 was characterized as a global pandemic, I am filled with confidence, and I am sure that through COVAX and international solidarity we will be able to reach the most at-risk everywhere. Global equitable access to life-saving vaccines is the surest way to save lives and rebuild economies.