President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo Wednesday described as “retrogressive” the seeming stance of some European countries not to recognise Covishield, the Indian version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Taking his turn at the General Debates of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, he said it was regrettable that though the Oxford-AstraZeneca jabs offered the same protection as brands manufactured elsewhere, some European nations considered visitors administered with the Indian variety of vaccines were not fully vaccinated.
The President’s comments follow the announcement by the United Kingdom and some European nations of simplified travel measures that specify that persons who have received double-dose vaccines such as Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or the single shot Janssen vaccine “under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas” will be considered fully vaccinated.
The measures also consider persons who have received jabs under public health bodies in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan as fully vaccinated.
However, People given the AstraZeneca jab produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), would not automatically avoid quarantine and mandatory testing when travelling in Europe.
“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,” the President noted.
President Akufo-Addo told the Assembly that Ghana has so far received five million doses of COVID-19, which have been administered to frontline health workers and those classified as being most at risk.
“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. We are still hoping to vaccinate 20 million of our people by the end of the year,” he said.
Ghana, the President pointed out, agreed with the call of the Rome Declaration of Global Health for voluntary licensing and technology transfers to boost vaccine production.
He said Ghana recognised that vaccination was the way to protect populations, and revitalise societies.
President Akufo-Addo pointed out that in the case of Africa, vaccinating 70 per cent of the population in the shortest possible time, as was being done elsewhere in the world, meaning some nine hundred million Africans had to be vaccinated.
He stressed that the Afreximbank’s structuring of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Taskforce’s two-billion-dollar acquisition of four hundred million Johnson & Johnson vaccines was part of the historic African Union’s COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy.
“It is a critical milestone in our collective fight against the pandemic, in a continent suffering the worst brunt of vaccine nationalism. The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Taskforce vaccine programme, partly manufactured in South Africa, is the single largest and most far-reaching trade transaction since the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January this year,” he added.
President Akufo-Addo described it as an “eloquent testimony” to the benefits of domestic production and pooled procurement in Africa, as envisioned by the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
The Africa Union is working with WHO, WTO and other global partners to expand its vaccine manufacturing and deployment.
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