Covax Scheme delivers first vaccines

Ghana has become the first country to receive free coronavirus vaccines through the Covax vaccine-sharing initiative. A delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine has arrived in the capital Accra, with healthcare workers pinpointed to be the first recipients.

The scheme, which is backed by the UN, plans to distribute more than 330 million jabs to 145 nations in the first half of 2021, in what has been described as a “critical moment” for efforts to ramp up vaccinations across lower income countries.   Nations can share surplus vaccine doses to the scheme, but it also has deals with manufacturers independently.

Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed up to the Covax programme and vaccinations are expected to start next week. As well as health workers, those over 60, people with underlying health conditions, and senior officials are due to be prioritised.

The Covax scheme is led by the WHO and also involves the Global Vaccine Alliance (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi).

The UK has committed £548 million to the programme and has promised to donate the majority of any surplus vaccine stocks.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab said: “Today’s rollout of vaccines to the world’s most vulnerable countries is a huge step forward in ending this pandemic. As one of the biggest donors to Covax the UK is ensuring that more than one billion vaccine doses will be sent to 92 countries so that no one is left behind in this global fight. We will only save lives and reduce the risk of future infections if we prevent the virus spreading in the world’s developing countries.”

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