The Ghana Health Service has reacted to reports that the highly contagious strain of COVID-19 Delta variant has been detected in the country, explaining that the cases recorded are not community infections.
It said the cases were only reported at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), and have not been transmitted publicly because all such positive cases were put under mandatory isolation.
Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, who signed a statement to clarify widespread media reports on the outbreak also explained that Ghana has not experienced a third wave of the virus because of the “robust surveillance system in place at the ports of entry and strict isolation of all cases detected.”
“As of now, the country has detected six Delta variants of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus) from all samples taken between April and June 2021 at the ports of entry. No Delta variant has been detected from samples taken from cases in the community”, the statement clarified.
Head of the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awandare confirmed the detection of the Delta strain.
He has thus urged the government to consider the procurement of Pfizer vaccines to combat the new COVID-19 strains.
Experts say although the AstraZeneca and Sputnik-V vaccines are effective, they are not suitable to fight the new strain.
Professor Gordon Awandare said procuring the Pfizer vaccines puts the country in a better position to fight the new variant.
“If you look at the new variants that we have had (South African variant and the Indian variants) and look at the data from all the other countries, the Pfizer vaccine seems to be the one that is able to have a more reliable effect on these variants. In terms of all these levels of protection (deaths, hospitalization). So the Pfizer vaccine seems to do better against these new variants.”
Potency of AstraZenca and Sputnik-V
But touching on the country’s vaccination preparedness against the Delta variant, the health management body rejected assertions that the current AstraZeneca and the proposed Sputnik-V are not efficacious to protect citizens against the high-transmissible Indian strain.
It said such claims are not backed by data. The GHS cited the Public Health England (PHE) which has said two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is highly effective against hospitalization due to the Delta variant and showed no deaths among those vaccinated.
Not only that, but it also mentioned a study conducted by Gamaleya Center which suggested that Sputnik-V is more efficient against the Delta variant of coronavirus, first detected in India, compared to other COVID-19 vaccines.
“On the issue of vaccines, reports that Sputnik-V and AstraZeneca vaccines are not effective against the Delta strain of SARS-Cov-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are untrue”, the GHS statement assured.
Ghana’s vaccination exercise
Ghana took delivery of 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility in addition to 50,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Indian government, and 165,000 from MTN for its mass vaccination program.
The country has since been struggling to get more vaccines to immunize its target of 20 million people.
It later emerged that the government is using the services of middlemen to procure some of Russia’s Sputnik – V vaccines but at a higher cost of US$ 19 other than the original factory price of US$ 10.