Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive vaccines acquired through the United Nations-backed COVAX initiative with a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India. The vaccines, delivered by UNICEF, arrived at Accra’s international airport early Wednesday and are part of the first wave of COVID-19 vaccines being sent by COVAX, an international cooperative program formed to make sure low- and middle-income countries have fair access to COVID-19 vaccines. Ghana is among 92 low- and middle-income countries that are receiving vaccines for free through COVAX. Another 90 countries and eight territories have agreed to pay if they choose to receive vaccines through COVAX. The West African nation of 30 million has recorded 81,245 cases of COVID-19 and 584 deaths, reports the AP.
Ghana's vaccination campaign will begin March 2 and will be conducted in phases among prioritized groups. In a joint statement, the country representatives of UNICEF and WHO described the arrival of the COVAX vaccines as a "momentous occasion" critical to bringing the pandemic to an end. The COVAX shipment to Ghana is the start of what will be the world's largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history, according to the statement. COVAX plans to deliver close to 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines around the world this year. "Today marks the historic moment for which we have been planning and working so hard. With the first shipment of doses, we can make good on the promise of the COVAX Facility to ensure people from less wealthy countries are not left behind in the race for life-saving vaccines," said UNICEF's executive director.
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