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Ghana To Have ‘One-Shot’ Johnson & Johnson Vaccine By August

The Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has promised that the country will be in possession of the Johnson & Johnson-produced vaccine after the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) approved the product.

In a morning press briefing on Wednesday, June 16, the minister outlined plans by the government to secure more vaccines for the coronavirus immunisation programme that is currently underway. The doses will be purchased through the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, an Africa Union initiative.

He did not disclose how much government would buy the J&J vaccines, however, Agyeman-Manu has already made a 15% deposit on the cost in pursuance of the doses. The number of doses expected to arrive in August was also not disclosed.

“We have indications that our first batch of vaccines to come from the AU supported procurement will begin to arrive in this country sometime in August. We are still waiting for the exact date,” the Health Minister stated.

The J&J vaccine joins AstraZeneca and Sputnik V as the three FDA approved vaccines for use in Ghana. The former is the only one-shot vaccine among the three even though the Russian-made Sputnik is also available in a one-shot iteration called Sputnik Light.

Vaccine controversies

Controversies surrounding the purchase of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine at $19 per dose from an Arab businessman instead of $10 from manufacturers have dominated the news in the past few days.

This has drawn widespread criticism, with health officials justifying their inability to purchase the vaccines from the source.

Taking his turn to address the media on Wednesday, June 16, Agyeman-Manu explained that their first effort was a bilateral engagement with Russia, which “yielded no significant results”.

“We had to write to the Foreign Minister of Russia, we wrote to the Health Minister of Russia, we wrote to the Trade Minister of Russia trying to see how they can facilitate so we could buy the vaccine from the manufacturers. But all these didn’t yield any responses or any significant results, to the extent that we even invited the Russian ambassador for an engagement but he couldn’t facilitate the trade”.

Ghana was one of three countries that availed itself for Sputnik V vaccine trials, so the failure to procure the vaccine at a relatively cheaper cost has raised eyebrows.

According to Agyeman-Manu, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) had approved only two vaccines, the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V.

AstraZeneca is produced in India, but the country suffered a high rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths, affecting export.

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