Ghana has termed as “unfortunate” the development in “some countries in Europe” of not recognising the Covishield vaccine manufactured in India for travellers, saying the use of vaccines as a tool for immigration control will be a “truly retrogressive step.”
On Wednesday, the UK government added Covishield, the India-manufactured Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, to an updated international travel advisory.
Indian travellers vaccinated with two doses of Covishield will still have to undergo 10 days of quarantine in the UK even as the vaccine has been approved under the revised British guidelines for travel, according to UK officials.
They said the main issue is vaccine certification and not the Covishield vaccine and that both India and the UK are holding talks to mutually resolve the matter.
“One unfortunate development appears to be the recent measures on entry into some countries in Europe, which suggest that Covishield, the OxfordAstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India, is not recognised by these countries,” President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo said in his address to the General Debate of the 76th session of UN General Assembly on Wednesday.
“What is intriguing is the fact that this vaccine was donated to African countries through the COVAX facility. The use of vaccines as a tool for immigration control will be a truly retrogressive step,” he said.
Ghana had received a total of 6.52 lakh doses of Made-in-India COVID-19 vaccines, including six lakh through COVAX and 50,000 doses through a grant.
Akufo-Addo said that the Africa Union is working with the World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and other global partners to expand its vaccine manufacturing and deployment.
Ghana has so far received five million doses, which have been administered to frontline health workers and those classified as being most at risk, he said.
“Five million is not a figure to be sneered at, particularly when we consider the situation in many other African countries. We are grateful that our efforts at the management of the pandemic and vaccine distribution have been recognised, and we have received these amounts so far,” he said, adding that Ghana is still hoping to vaccinate 20 million of its people by the end of the year.
He said Ghana is listening to the scientists and it is evident that vaccination is the way to protect populations and revitalise societies.
“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."
More than 5.7 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered globally, but only 2 per cent of them in Africa, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has said, adding that “this doesn’t only hurt the people of Africa, it hurts all of us.
"The longer vaccine inequity persists, the more the virus will keep circulating and changing, the longer the social and economic disruption will continue, and the higher the chances that more variants will emerge that render vaccines less effective.”
As of September 15, 2021, a total of 5,634,533,040 vaccine doses have been administered.
So far COVAX has delivered more than 300 million doses to 142 economies, and according to the latest forecast, a total of approximately 1.2 billion doses will be available for the lower-income economies supported by the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) by the end of 2021.
“This is enough to protect 20 per cent of the population, or 40 per cent of all adults, in all 92 AMC economies with the exception of India. The key COVAX milestone of two billion doses released for delivery is now expected to be reached in the first quarter of 2022,” a WHO press release said.
COVAX is a worldwide initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines directed by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the WHO.
Ghebreyesus has said that if nations have to meet the targets of vaccinating 10 per cent of the population of all countries by the end of this month, 40 per cent by the end of 2021 and 70 per cent by mid next year, “we need to drastically scale up access to vaccines now.”