Ghana, just like any other country is in the race to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine for its populace. Particularly given the B.1.17 variant of the disease, which was first identified in the United Kingdom.
This new strain is estimated to be up to 70% more infectious and 65% more fatal than the previous strain. With the B.1.17 strain increasing the number of infections and death rate at greater speed, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine could not come quickly enough. Currently, Ghana has recorded a total of 76, 492 COVID cases with 542 deaths.
Cost of Covid-19 Vaccine
To attain herd immunity, Ghana would at least have to vaccinate 60% of the over 30 million residents. This is certainly not going to come cheap but at a hefty cost.
Under the COVAX facility, Ghana is expected to receive an initial tranche of 2.4 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in the first half of the year. Given the vaccine has to be taken in 2 doses, only 1.2 million of the over 30 million residents will be receiving the vaccine by June 2021. The country, however, is expected to take 968,000 doses of the vaccine by the end of March as an initial batch. The initial batch has been heavily targeted at the country’s health workers estimated at 108,000.
According to a news feed, Ghana is expected to purchase the vaccine at GH¢58.00 a dose instead of GH¢24.00 a dose. Given the figure, Ghana will be procuring the vaccine at a total of GH¢139.2 million by the end of June. Now major questions remain, how will the vaccines be distributed? Who gets to be vaccinated within the first half of the year? How does the country plan to secure the total number of doses?
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Akufo Addo’s address
President Akufo-Addo in his 23rd national update on measures taken by government to curb the COVID-19 pandemic in Ghana on January 31, announced that “… by the end of June, a total of 17.6 million vaccine doses would have been procured for the Ghanaian people.”
For the president to fulfill this promise, Ghana will have to rely heavily on the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team. This is an initiative by the African Union that aims to close the gap between the 20% population coverage by the COVAX facility to participating African countries, and the 60% coverage needed to attain national immunity.
The African Export-Import Bank is supporting the initiative with a funding of $7 billion to vaccine manufacturers on behalf of AU member states.