Ghana has become the first country in the world to receive coronavirus vaccines through the UN-led Covax initiative.

The scheme was set up to make sure developing countries had access to the Covid jab.

Today Ghana received a delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India and delivered by UNICEF.

They are part of the first wave of Covid-19 vaccines that COVAX is sending to several low- and middle-income countries.

Ghana is among 92 countries that have signed onto the COVAX program, according to a statement by acting Minister of Information Kojo Oppong Nkrumah.

The West African nation of 30 million has recorded 81,245 cases and 584 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ghana’s vaccination campaign will begin March 2 and will be conducted in phases among prioritised groups, beginning with health workers, adults of 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary, and their related staff, said Nkrumah.

He added: ‘The government of Ghana remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of all Ghanaians and is making frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines to cover the entire population through bilateral and multi-lateral agencies.’

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.

They said: ‘After a year of disruptions due to the Covic-19 pandemic … the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin.’

The 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 2billion doses of coronavirus vaccines around the world this year.

UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore said: ‘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.

‘The next phase in the fight against this disease can begin – the ramping up of the largest immunization campaign in history.

‘Each step on this journey brings us further along the path to recovery for the billions of children and families affected around the world.’

It comes after leaders of the G7 agreed to double their funding for Covax – from $3.5billion to $7.5billion (£5.3billion) – in a bid to bring the pandemic to a close.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus welcomed the announcement, but said much more still needs to be done to address the imbalance of vaccines across the globe.

During a virtual meeting last week, UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the current distribution as ‘wildly uneven and unfair’, adding that 75% of Covid vaccinations worldwide had been administered by just 10 countries, while 130 nations were yet to have a single dose.

With the UK well ahead in its vaccine rollout, Boris Johnson has faced calls to share some of the country’s doses, with experts arguing the pandemic can only be defeated through global cooperation.

The Prime Minister has since promised to donate the majority of Britain’s surplus supply to poorer countries, although it is not yet known exactly how many doses.

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