President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has officially become the first person in Ghana to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
In a public ceremony today, the President took the first dose of the vaccine and was closely followed by the Second Lady Rebecca Akuffo Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and Second Lady Samira Bawumia.
They are all expected to take the second dose of the vaccine in about three weeks.
“I decided to take it public to clear all doubts and urge everyone to also accept the vaccine,” President Akufo Addo said before taking his jab.
“So everybody in Ghana should feel comfortable about taking the vaccine. It is important that everybody at the end of the day is vaccinated. That is our objective.”
Vice President Bawumia reaffirmed the need to set an example that will encourage Ghanaians to feel free to
Meanwhile, a few days ago, the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare implored Ghanaians to pray so that the newly received AstraZeneca vaccine will become “even more effective”.
“We will pray over the vaccines so that they become even more effective; through the prayers, Ghana could become one of the first countries to defeat COVID-19 through the vaccination,” he told Accra-based Okay FM in an interview monitored by Whatsup News.
Perhaps, his statement was in response to the growing mistrust that the AtsraZeneca vaccine has racked up worldwide. The German newspaper, Der Spiegel while reporting on the confusion over the vaccine, described it as “The vaccine nobody wants”.
While Ghanaian officials are banking total optimism on the AstraZeneca vaccines, 600,000 doses that were recently given to Ghana “free-of-charge”, many countries are rejecting the vaccine.
France, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Poland have expressed reluctance in injecting people older than 65 years of age with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because of concerns over its efficacy, Ghana has lined up its elderly, including President Akufo Addo as the first recipients of the just-delivered AstraZeneca Vaccine to Ghana.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated categorically that she will not take the AstraZeneca vaccine because she is “too old” at 66.
In South Africa, deployment of AstraZeneca has been halted altogether after a study revealed that its efficacy level is way lower than advertised. In some cases, it is lower than 10%, and the efficacy rate that ordinary herbal concoctions found in most kitchens can achieve.
Yet, in Ghana, 76-year-old President Akufo Addo took the jab to demonstrate his confidence in the vaccine.
Results of clinical studies that Between April 23 and Nov 4, 2020, some 11,000 participants were covered in a study to determine the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but only a paltry 660 of the participants were around 60 years old and above. The efficacy rate of the vaccine turned out to be approximately 62%, the lowest in all the current vaccines developed for treating COVID-19 worldwide.
Because of the low numbers, the authors of the study concluded that the vaccine’s efficacy in the elderly could not be determined.
A similar study to test the efficacy of a rival vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine enrolled some 38,000 participants and there was a sizeable sample size of the elderly of some 16,000 who were 55 years old and over.
Ghanaians are already divided about the vaccine, with wild conspiracy theories flying around. Some religious people have associated the vaccine to the biblical “Mark of the Beast”.