The first COVAX vaccinations begin
COVID-19 vaccination campaigns using COVAX-funded doses commenced today in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, the first of an historic global rollout.
1 March 2021 – by Duncan Graham-Rowe
Today, in a marquee the size of an aircraft hangar next to Abidjan’s Parcs des Sport, in Côte d’Ivoire, history was made as around 50 healthcare and frontline workers waited patiently to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Not only were they among the first in the country to be vaccinated, but they were also the first in the world to receive COVAX shipped vaccines. This vaccination campaign, along with another simultaneously launched in Ghana, signals the beginning of what will be largest and most rapid global vaccine deployment the world has ever seen.
By the end of the year more than a billion high-risk and vulnerable people living in countries that would otherwise be unable to afford these vaccines, will now be protected because of COVAX.
This global health milestone marks a pivotal moment in the global pandemic, because from now on the protection people receive against COVID-19 will not be determined by the wealth or influence of their country, but rather by principles of equitable access to these vaccines. With more than 2 billion COVAX doses secured, of which at least 1.3 billion are ringfenced for lower-income countries, this paves the way for people in all corners of the world to be vaccinated, which is an essential step towards slowing the spread of the virus globally.
The Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana vaccination campaigns come just two weeks after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine received World Health Organization (WHO) Emergency Use Listing, giving it a green light for their use globally. Last week the very first of these doses were shipped from the Serum Institute of India, where they were manufactured, to Africa, with 504,000 arriving in Côte d’Ivoire and 600,000 in Ghana.
In the next seven days a further 11 million COVAX vaccine doses are being shipped to more countries, with 247 million doses to reach 147 countries by the end of May. In total 92 lower-income countries will receive donor funded COVAX vaccines, through the Gavi COVID-19 Vaccine Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC), with further vaccination campaigns due to commence in the coming weeks, including in Columbia, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Moldova, Niger, Rwanda and others.
Setting an important example that these vaccines are both safe and effective, in Ghana the President Nano Akufo-Addo and First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo were the first to receive their jabs, while in Côte d’Ivoire Patrick Achi, President Alassane Ouattara’s Chief of Staff, was the first, followed by healthcare workers, teachers and other frontline workers. By the end of the year more than a billion high-risk and vulnerable people living in countries that would otherwise be unable to afford these vaccines, will now be protected because of COVAX.