Ken Ofori-Atta, the Minister for Finance has said Ghana is unlikely to hit a herd immunity of 60% or 70% by December 2021 in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Although COVID-19 vaccine shipments to Africa are rapidly ramping up from multiple sources after a near-halt to deliveries in recent months, Ofori-Atta believes the government might not be able to achieve its target of vaccinating the populace to achieve a certain percentage of herd immunity.
The minister was speaking in an exclusive interview with Beatrice Adu on The Big Bulletin on Thursday (5 August).
He said, “I get confused with questions like this when you know that the supply element now has changed considerably and it is evident that the way in which the world dealt with this ensured that Africa was not going to get the supply. It is only now that we seem to have resolved it.
“… It is unlikely that we will get to head immunity of 60% or 70% by December but we certainly will have a road map which ensures that doses would be coming in regularly so that our people are protected.”
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of a community becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. As a result, the whole community becomes protected — not just those who are immune.
The COVAX facility aims to ship 520 million doses to Africa by the end of 2021. COVID-19 vaccine deliveries from the African Union’s Africa Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) are picking up, with a projected rise to 10 million each month from September. Around 45 million doses are expected from AVAT by the end of the year.
So far, almost 79 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have arrived in Africa and 21 million people, or just 1.6% of Africa’s population, are fully vaccinated. High-income countries have given 61 times more doses per person than low-income countries. To fully vaccinate 30% of Africa’s population by the end of 2021, the continent needs up to 820 million doses, considering a two-dose schedule.
Ghana on Wednesday 24th February 2021 became the first country in Africa to receive Astra Zeneca vaccines from the United Nations-backed COVAX programme, a global scheme to procure free coronavirus jabs for poorer countries. A total of 600,000 vaccines were received.
On 1 March 2021, President Nana Akufo-Addo, became the world’s first recipient of the COVID-19 vaccine from COVAX.
“It is important that I set the example that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it so that everybody in Ghana can feel comfortable about taking this vaccine,” the president said before receiving a shot of the Oxford- Astra Zeneca vaccine in a live broadcast.
Ghana has so far vaccinated about one million, two hundred and seventy thousand of its citizens. The target as set out by President Akufo-Addo is to vaccinate the entire adult population of Ghana which is about 20 million, by the end of 2021.
Vaccinations in Ghana has largely halted due to the unavailability of vaccines on the international market. Health experts indicate that the surest way to beat the COVID-19 pandemic is for all countries to vaccinate their populations.
Ghana’s active cases now
At least 490 new coronavirus cases have been confirmed by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) pushing the country’s active cases to 6,766.
The death toll has hit 854 after ten additional fatalities were recorded across the country, an update on the GHS COVID-19 dashboard reveals.
As of 1 August 2021, Ghana’s total confirmed cases stand at 106, 434. Currently, health officials have recorded 98, 814 recoveries.
According to the Ghana Health Service, the month of July recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases among international arrivals since the airport opened on 1 September 2020.
The GHS says the Volta Region, Bono, and Bono East are becoming emerging hotspots.