Ghana President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has criticised European countries for not recognising the Indian-made Covishield vaccine, calling it a “retrogressive” step.
Speaking at the high-level General Assembly session on Wednesday, Akufo-Addo accused those countries, which he did not name, of using the non-recognition of Covishield as an anti-immigration device.
He said, “The use of vaccine as a tool for immigration control will be truly a retrogressive step.”
“One unfortunate development appears to be the recent measures on entry into some countries in Europe which suggests that Covishield, the AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, is not recognised by these countries,” he said.
He said that it was “intriguing” that the Covishield vaccines made by the Serum Institute of India and donated to African countries by COVAX, the international facility co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and includes UNICEF, were not recognised.
India donated 50,000 doses to Ghana, and sent 600,000 through COVAX and 2,000 commercially, according to India’s Ministry of External Affairs statistics.
Akufo-Addo backed the Rome Declaration of the G20, of which India is a member, that proposed granting licences voluntarily for making vaccines.
He said, “Ghana agrees with the call of the Rome Declaration of Global Health for voluntary licensing and technology transfer to boost vaccine production. The African Union is working with WHO WTO and other global partners to expand vaccine manufacturing and deployment.”
Ghana, which has a population of about 31 million, has vaccinated 5 million people and hoped to vaccinate 20 million by the end of the year, he said.
But he noted that the African continent has a long way to go.
“To vaccinate 70 per cent in the shortest possible time as is being done elsewhere in the world means some 900 million Africans have to be vaccinated,” he said.
Covishield does not appear on the list of acceptable vaccines of some countries like Germany and Italy while AstraZeneca does.
The European Medicines Agency, which is an agency for evaluating and monitoring vaccines, does not list Covishield either.
But some European countries like the Netherlands, France and Britain list Covishield among vaccines that are acceptable for travel to those countries.
The United States will recognise Covishield when the vaccination mandate for travellers comes into effect in November because it is on the list of vaccines authorised for emergency use by the WHO.
Suriname President Chan Santokhi, who decried the refusal of many industrialised countries to share vaccines, thanked India for sharing vaccines.
India donated 50,000 vaccines to Suriname.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed @arulouis)