Ghana on Saturday received 177,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccines under the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT). The doses are part of a total of 6.4 million vaccine doses to be shipped to African Union Member States in August 2021. Ghana is among the first ten African countries to receive vaccines through the partnership.
The Deputy Minister of Health Tina Gifty Mensah and the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye were at the airport to receive the vaccines. The vaccine deliveries are part of the historic COVID-19 vaccine advance procurement agreement signed on 28 March 2021 by AVAT for the purchase of 220 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot COVID-19 vaccine, with the potential to order an additional 180 million doses.
“The agreement and the start of deliveries mark the first time that the African Union Member States have collectively purchased vaccines to safeguard the health of the African population,” a joint press release announcing the arrival of the vaccines at the Kotoka International Airport said. In total, the 400m vaccines acquired by AVAT are sufficient to immunise a third of the African population.
The Member States who have ordered vaccines through AVAT will continue to receive shipments for the next following months. World Bank financing has been mobilized to support both the acquisition and equitable deployment of vaccines. Under the additional credit of $200 million for the Ghana COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Project, the World Bank is contributing towards financing a total of 16.9 million vaccine doses through AVAT.
In addition, the project is helping to strengthen vaccine deployment, so that doses translate into effective and equitable vaccinations. This includes support to logistics and cold chain, needed supplies to carry out vaccination, training vaccination teams, and demand generation activities. AVAT was established by the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, set up in November 2020 under the African Union chairmanship of President Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.
It is part of the African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy, and its goal of vaccinating at least 60 per cent of the African population with safe and efficacious vaccines against COVID-19.
The agreement with Johnson & Johnson was made possible through a USD 2 billion facility provided by the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), who are also the Financial and Transaction Advisers, Guarantors, Instalment Payment Advisers and Payment Agents, and the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) who coordinated the alignment of the AU Ministers of Finance on the financing arrangements.
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) supported by the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP) is providing logistical and delivery services to the various African Union Member States.