Ghana and Ivory Coast in February became the first countries to receive COVID-19 shots under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme designed to help poor and middle-income countries gain access to the sought-after vaccines.

The COVAX facility, backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), aims to secure 2 billion vaccine doses by the end of 2021.

In early March, it said the target was to deliver 237 million doses of AstraZeneca’s shot to 142 countries by the end of May, and also shipped its first Pfizer shots.

Meanwhile, Ghana began its coronavirus vaccination drive on Tuesday with 600 000 AstraZeneca doses it received from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility aimed at providing shots to developing nations to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

People lined up for shots outside the regional hospital in the capital, Accra, for the first phase of vaccinations which will prioritise frontline health workers and others at high risk.

“I feel so good about taking the vaccine. It will protect me from contracting the virus from patients,” said Bernice Anaglatey, 42, who works in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at Accra’s Ridge Hospital as she queued for her shot.

While western nations have secured millions of doses and launched mass vaccination drives, most poorer countries do not yet have access to any, raising concerns about equitable distribution of vaccines to fight the pandemic.

Ghana was the first country to receive vaccines as part of the World Health Organisation’s COVAX sharing scheme aimed at pooling funds from wealthier nations and non-profits to deliver doses equitably around the world.

COVAX aims to deliver over 1.3 billion vaccine doses to over 90 low- and middle-income countries by the end of the year, covering up to 20% of their populations.