Ghana has taken delivery of 177,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccines under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
The doses which arrived at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) on Saturday forms part of a total of 6.4 million vaccine doses procured and to be shipped to African Union Member States by the end of August.
The arrival of the vaccines thus places Ghana among the first 10 African countries to receive vaccines through the partnership.
The vaccine deliveries are part of the historic COVID-19 vaccine advance procurement agreement signed on March 28, 2021 by AVAT for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.
“The agreement and the start of deliveries mark the first time that the African Union Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population,” a joint press release announcing the arrival of the vaccines at the Kotoka International Airport said.
Deputy Minister of Health, Tina Naa Ayeley Mensah, who received the vaccines, was happy the country could continue with vaccination as the exercise had slowed down in the last few months due to global shortages.
She said Ghana signed onto AVAT to support the AU’s effort at pooling financial resources to collectively purchase vaccines and mitigate spread of the virus.
“Johnson and Johnson vaccines was selected by AVAT for the first pooled procurement because it is a single-shot, easier and cheaper to administer, has a long shelf-life and favourable storage conditions,” she said.
Ms Mensah added that the fact that the vaccines were partly manufactured on the continent with fill-finish activities taking place in South Africa gave confidence to the continent to be in a position to inoculate its populace.
With cold-chain storage facilities already in place, Ms Mensah urged health authorities to quickly deploy the vaccines to immunise citizens.
She particularly urged members of the public who have not taken any of the COVID-19 vaccines to avail themselves for their shots to guard against the infection.
“The Ministry will continue to deliver on its mandate to ensure a health population for national development,” she assured.
The Head of COVID-19 Commodities Group, Mr Matthew Kyeremeh, urged the public to continue adhering to the safety protocol which remains the best bet to stem the spread of the virus.
A representative of AVAT, Mr Kwabena Ayirebi, in a remark, said Ghana is the second country after Togo to receive the Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
The “whole of Africa approach to purchasing vaccines” for the continent he said, was significant to the fight against the pandemic.
The World Health Organisation has charged member countries to vaccinate at least 60 per cent of its population to achieve herd immunity.
The arrival of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines gives a shot-in-the-arm of the country’s COVID-19 fight as the number of active cases continues to soar up.
So far the country had administered a total of 1, 271,393 doses with 405,971 people fully vaccinated from the Astra Zeneca vaccines.
However, there is shortaage in supply of the vaccine from the COVAX facility due to the worsening situation in India which was in charge of the production of the vaccine for over 92 countries under the facility.
About 107,819 cases of COVID-19 had been recorded since the first two cases were recorded in March 2020 with 100,008 persons treated. In addition, the active cases stood at 6,938 with 871 deaths recorded so far.
BY CLIFF EKUFUL AND ABIGAIL ANNOH