Ghana has taken delivery of 350,000 more AstraZeneca vaccines from the Democratic Republic of Congo through the COVAX initiative.
The vaccines form part of 1.3 million doses out of the 1.7 million doses being redistributed by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF to Ghana, Comoros, Senegal and Angola.
DR Congo had delayed its AstraZeneca vaccine rollout over fears it could lead to rare blood clotting. UNICEF had earlier indicated that the vaccines distributed under the global COVAX initiative will expire on 24 June hence the redistribution.
The arrival of the vaccines in Ghana is expected to boost government’s drive to administer the second jab to those who had already taken the first shot.
The Minority in Parliament over the weekend warned that any further delay in procuring COVID-19 vaccines may force Ghanaians who have received the first jab to give in to any substandard vaccines.
Formulate COVID-19 antigen policy
Meanwhile, the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Caucus in Parliament has called on the government to, as a matter of urgency, formulate an antigen policy and submit it to Parliament for consideration.
The Minority said an antigen policy, as done in other countries, would help to determine when antigen tests are sufficient screens or if there was the need to either add PCR tests or perform PCR tests alone to elucidate the positivity or otherwise of suspected COVID-19 patients.
Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, the ranking member of health, addressing a press conference in Parliament, urged the government to increase testing and provide protective equipment for immigration officials to control the spread of the virus.
He called on the government to expedite action on the procurement and deployment of vaccines across the country as was promised earlier.
Akandoh said there was currently no COVID-19 protocols with regards to ship crews arriving at the country’s ports.
He explained that since there were no recommended antigen or PCR tests for those individuals, and the fact that COVID spread in confined spaces, risks of infection were high among crew members who might stay for weeks in close quarters with others.
Policy for ship crew
Akandoh, therefore, charged the government to urgently institute a COVID-19 testing policy for ship crew to ensure the general safety of Ghanaians.
He said due to the absence of vaccines and the challenges with monitoring travellers at the ports, the government’s increased routine surveillance at the ports would prevent a third wave of COVID infections as witnessed in the early parts of this year.
“It is, therefore, more urgent now than ever that in the absence of vaccines and the challenges with monitoring travellers at the ports, and in some instances imported fake PCR test results and over-reliance on an antigen test, the government must increase routine surveillance to prevent a third wave of COVID infections like we witnessed in the early part of the year,” he added.
Akandoh, also the Member of Parliament for Juaboso, called on the government to ban flights from COVID-19 hotspot countries.