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The halt of Oxford-AstraZeneca: What it means for Ghana’s coronavirus vaccine deployment.

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The halt of Oxford-AstraZeneca: What it means for Ghana’s coronavirus vaccine deployment. 1

 

 

Countries across the globe are halting the procurement, distribution and deployment of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines citing blood clotting concerns as a side effect.

This comes to light after the European Medicine Agency (EMA) conducted an investigation following some related deaths concluded that there were some unusual clots found among individuals with low blood platelets [small fragments that enable blood to clot] and now listed it as a possible “very rare side effect” of the vaccine.

“Even though your chances of developing a blood clot or low platelets after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine is very low, you should be aware of the symptoms so that you can get prompt medical treatment, if necessary,” the EMA said.

So far, some European countries like Germany, France and Spain have temporarily suspended or halted administering shots for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. On the African continent, Cameroun, South Africa, Nigeria have since ditched their intention to receive a supply of the vaccines.

The latest from the batch is the African Union’s Center for Disease Control announcing it has dropped plans to secure AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for its member countries. The AU cited the global shortfall of supply for the vaccine as its reason.

Already, there have been delays in deliveries of the AstraZeneca doses which has been hampering vaccination drives across Africa. The Africa CDC was planning to receive some 400 million shots of the AstraZeneca vaccines in addition to 270 million previously intended but these vaccines are yet to arrive.

Ghana’s context

Ghana on the other hand, was the first low-income country in Africa to take delivery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the COVID-19 Vaccines Advance Market Commitment (COVAX AMC) facility with its first consignment of 600,000 doses of the vaccine.

According to health experts, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has an overall efficacy rate of 76 percent by the time the two required doses are administered, with the second dose only given after 22 days from the first.

The second dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine however is expected to be administered 12 weeks later following the first.

According to data provided by Ghana’s Ministry of Health, some 742,349 vaccinations have been carried out across the country as of April 10, 2021.

While still short of its intended target of vaccinating some 17 million Ghanaians by June this year, the temporary and complete halt of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines across parts of the world has left many wondering if they will ever receive the second dose.

Government on March 2, 2021 commenced its vaccination rollout with the President and First Lady of the Republic of Ghana receiving the first jabs of the vaccines in an effort to encourage the public about the safety and efficiency of the vaccines.

Though government says the first batch of the vaccines it took delivery of would not be the only supply it intends to receive or procure, vaccine delays have already been plaguing parts of the country.