Ghana’s fight against Covid-19 has received a boost following the submission of requests by the government and its development partners for the procurement of 6 million Covid-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility.
The vaccines, which will be procured by the sector agency with advice from an established expert committee, are aimed at protecting the most vulnerable population against the virus.
President Akufo-Addo in his 20th Covid-19 update announced the formation of an expert committee to help in the procurement and deployment of the Covid-19 vaccines in the country, assuring that Ghana will not be left behind in having access to the vaccines.
Giving further details of what the President said, Head of Disease Surveillance Department of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Franklin Asiedu Bekoe, said the COVAX facility is one of the outlets the expert committee is considering for the procurement of the vaccines.
“In terms of acquiring the vaccines there are a number of facilities that are available, we have what we call the COVAX facility which is actually made up of key stakeholders GAVI, WHO, UNICEF and all the key development partners to ensure that member states are able to get some minimum number of vaccine doses, then the Chinese and Russia facilities,” Dr. Bekoe disclosed.
He added that with the COVAX facility, the country can procure vaccines for up to about 20 per cent of its population, “so for a country like Ghana it means that, that facility will get us up till about 6 million vaccines… so we have actually submitted our request for the COVAX facility which will take care of 20 per cent of the population,” he said.
Dr. Bekoe further explained that the team will consider those with high risk of getting infected and dying from the disease as the initial target population for the vaccine deployment.
“In that context the team is recommending to government that our first line of receivers will be the health workers. I think that it is in sync with what is happening in other countries where the health workers are the first to get the vaccine because they are always almost exposed to the virus.
“Then our second line is persons with underlining morbidities; people who have hypertension, diabetes, and cancer, they will be the most likely group and then we look at the aged, that is people more than 60 years,” he indicated.
Dr. Bekoe stated that the perspective is for the population to get the vaccines, however, it will be done in batches, adding that once the other facilities come on board more people will be able to access the vaccines.
He assured that the vaccines have gone through the safety measures by the World Health Organisation (WHO) before it was passed.
“Clearly if you look at this, somehow the benefits outweigh the risks so what we need to do is to make sure that the average Ghanaian buys into it … there may be a few people who may not want it but majority of Ghanaians will want it,” he stated.
He said sub-committees have been set up to educate Ghanaians on the benefits and possible side effects of the vaccines and to appreciate and understand what the whole vaccination process is about.
The idea is to weigh the benefits to the risk, the world has changed since Covid-19 came so are we going to survive or live close to normal without vaccines, these are difficult questions to answer but for now vaccination will help us get close to living normal again.
Representatives of COVAX facility are expected to be in the country in the first quarter of 2021.