First vaccines delivered under global Covax schemeWednesday, February 24, 2021
ACCRA, Ghana (AFP) — Ghana became the first country to receive vaccines from the global Covax scheme on Wednesday, paving the way for poorer nations to catch up with inoculation drives in wealthier parts of the world to stamp out the coronavirus pandemic.
But Europe's vaccine rollout faced fresh woes after AstraZeneca said it would only be able to deliver half its promised doses to the EU, deepening ongoing tensions with the bloc over supply shortfalls.
More than 217 million vaccine doses have been administered globally, according to an AFP tally Wednesday, though the vast majority have been given in high-income countries.
Hopes are high that the inoculations will allow the world to finally emerge from a pandemic that has killed more than 2.4 million, infected 112 million, and hammered the global economy.
But health experts have warned that unless the whole world has access to vaccines, the pandemic will not end.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) applauded the first delivery of the Covax vaccines Wednesday with an enthusiastic tweet.
"At last!" posted WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
"A day to celebrate, but it's just the first step."
The WHO is one of several organisations behind Covax, which aims to deliver at least two billion doses globally by the end of the year.
The 600,000 doses delivered to Ghana in a ceremony broadcast live on television are from Oxford/AstraZeneca, and will be administered in several Ghanaian cities from Tuesday.
They are part of an initial tranche of deliveries headed to several low and middle-income countries, including to Ivory Coast this week.
Covax, led by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the WHO and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), is seeking to ensure vaccines are equitably distributed globally.
So far, Israel, the United States and Britain are leading in vaccine rollouts, while many poor countries have yet to receive a single jab.
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