COVAX vaccine arrives in Ghana this morning. The Ghana Health Service - Government Ministry took delivery of 600,000 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine at the Kotoka International Airport earlier today. This is its first shipment to Ghana.
Ghana, among 92 countries signed the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility (Covax). The Government of Ghana says the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccines would begin from Tuesday 2nd March, 2021.
‘The persons who will receive the first shipment of the vaccine are health workers, adults 60 years and over, people with underlying health conditions, frontline executive, legislature, judiciary and their related staff, frontline security personnel, some religious leaders, essential workers, teachers and other personalities in Greater Accra Metro including Awutu Senya and Awutu Senya East in the Central Region.’ - Ministry of Information.
’The World Health Organization approved the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use Monday,15th February 2021, which could help developing countries access the vaccine and make it easier for other nations to approve it, as well.’ - says Forbes.
WHAT IS COVID-19?
COVID-19 is the disease caused by a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. WHO first learned of this new virus on 31 December 2019, following a report of a cluster of cases of ‘viral pneumonia’ in Wuhan, People’s Republic of China.
SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the signs and symptoms of Covid-19 are:
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are
- Dry cough
Other symptoms that are less common and may affect some patients include:
- Loss of taste or smell,
- Nasal congestion,
- Conjunctivitis (also known as red eyes)
- Sore throat,
- Muscle or joint pain,
- Different types of skin rash,
- Nausea or vomiting,
- Chills or dizziness.
Symptoms of severe COVID‐19 disease include:
- Shortness of breath,
- Loss of appetite,
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest,
- High temperature (above 38 °C).
Other less common symptoms are:
- Reduced consciousness (sometimes associated with seizures),
- Sleep disorders,
- More severe and rare neurological complications such as strokes, brain inflammation, delirium and nerve damage.
People of all ages who experience fever and/or cough associated with difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, chest pain or pressure, or loss of speech or movement should seek medical care immediately. If possible, call your health care provider, hotline or health facility first, so you can be directed to the right clinic.
What about the AstraZeneca Vaccine?
The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is being manufactured locally by the Serum Institute of India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer. It says it is producing more than 50 million doses a month.
The vaccine, which is known as Covishield, is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus (known as an adenovirus) from chimpanzees. It has been modified to look more like coronavirus - although it can't cause illness.
When the vaccine is injected into a patient, it prompts the immune system to start making antibodies and primes it to attack any coronavirus infection.
- The WHO approved versions of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in South Korea and India as part of its Covax initiative that ensures equitable access to the vaccine among developing nations.
- The approval means that countries will be able to receive the vaccine through the Covax program, and it will let countries “expedite” their own approval processes for the shot, WHO said in a release Monday.
- The WHO had already listed the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for emergency use, but the AstraZeneca shot is less expensive and easier to widely distribute, as it can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures unlike the Pfizer doses.
- The WHO released guidance recommending the AstraZeneca shot should be given even in countries where other variants of the coronavirus are dominant, after South Africa said they would not roll out the vaccine there due to it potentially only being minimally effective against that country’s prevalent strain.
- More than 50 countries have already approved the AstraZeneca vaccine to some extent, according to the company, including the United Kingdom and European Union.
HOW EFFECTIVE IS COVISHIELD?
International clinical trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine showed that when people were given a half dose and then a full dose, effectiveness hit 90%.
But there was not enough clear data to approve the half-dose, full-dose idea. However, unpublished data suggests that leaving a longer gap between the first and second doses increases the overall effectiveness of the jab - in a sub-group given the vaccine this way it was found to be 70% effective after the first dose.
More than 330 million. That’s how many doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are projected to roll out to 145 countries through Covax this year starting at the end of February, according to data cited by Reuters. The Covax program is expected to only cover approximately 3.3% of the countries’ total populations.
WHAT IS COVAX?
COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, abbreviated as COVAX, is a global initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines led by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and others.
By 15 July 2020, 165 countries – representing 60% of the human population – had joined COVAX.
ANY OTHER VACCINE CANDIDATES?
The other candidates which are in different stages of trials in India to test safety and efficacy include:
- ZyCov-Di, being developed by Ahmedabad-based Zydus-Cadila
- A vaccine being developed by Hyderabad-based Biological E, the first Indian private vaccine-making company, in collaboration with US-based Dynavax and Baylor College of Medicine
- HGCO19, India's first mRNA vaccine made by Pune-based Genova in collaboration with Seattle-based HDT Biotech Corporation, using bits of genetic code to cause an immune response
- A nasal vaccine by Bharat BioTech
- The Sputnik V vaccine candidate developed by Dr Reddy's Lab and Gamaleya National Centre in Russia
- A second vaccine being developed by Serum Institute of India and American vaccine development company Novavax
WHICH COUNTRIES ARE SIGNING UP FOR INDIA’S VACCINES?
Some of the first doses have been already shipped to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar and Seychelles.
Only Covishield has been exported so far - some in the form of "gifts" and the rest in line with commercial agreements signed between Serum and these nations.
Ghana Ministry of Health& the Ministry of Information