The first Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa using doses provided by COVAX, a global initiative for equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, began in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
The campaigns follow vaccine deliveries to both countries last week, with Ghana taking delivery of 600,000 doses on February 24 and Cote d’Ivoire 504,000 doses two days later, the WHO said in a press release on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.
Both countries received the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which was granted Emergency Use Listing (EUL) by the WHO on February 15.
The deliveries mark the start of what will be the largest, most rapid and complex global rollout of vaccines in history. In total, COVAX aims to deliver at least two billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021, including at least 1.3 billion to the 92 economies eligible for support through the WHO-led international initiative, according to the press release.
“This is a day many of us have been dreaming of and working for more than 12 months,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “But success is still to come. This is only the beginning of what COVAX was set up to achieve.”
According to the WHO, the start of Africa’s biggest immunization drive in history through COVAX marks a step forward in the continent’s fight against Covid-19. It is a welcome shift towards bringing African countries off the sidelines and back into the vaccination race, correcting the glaring inequity that has been an unfortunate hallmark of the global vaccine rollout to date.