Africa: Using Vaccines As an Immigration Control Tool Is Retrogressive - - President Akufo-Addo

23 September 2021

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has described as unfortunate and retrogressive the recent immigration control introduced by some European countries to prevent entry persons who had taken Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The President said the policy by some European countries not to recognise Covishield, the Indian version of the AstraZeneca vaccine, is regrettable and inappropriate.

He said what was intriguing was that the AstraZeneca vaccine had been donated to African countries through the COVAX facility.

President Akufo-Addo made those comments on Wednesday when he took his turn to speak at the 76th United Nations General Assembly, in New York, in the United States.

The President's comments come on the heels of the "simplified travel measures" announced recently by the UK Government and some countries in Europe, which would be effective, 4th October 2021.

The measures specify that persons who have received double-dose vaccines such as Oxford-AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna or the single shot Janssen vaccine "under an approved vaccination programme in the UK, Europe, US or UK vaccine programme overseas" will be considered fully vaccinated.

The rules also consider persons who have received jabs under public health bodies in Australia, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Dominica, Israel, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea or Taiwan as fully vaccinated.

Ghana has so far received five million doses, which had been administered to frontline health workers and those classified as being most at risk.

"Five million is not a figure to be sneered at," President Akufo-Addo stated, "particularly when we consider the situation in many other African countries."

President Akufo-Addo said the commendation and recognition by the world of African's effort at managing the pandemic and vaccine distribution were encouraging, "and we have received these amounts so far. We are still hoping to vaccinate 20 million of our people by the end of the year."

The President said Ghana agreed with the call by the Rome Declaration of Global Health for voluntary licensing and technology transfers to boost vaccine production.

The Africa Union is working with WHO, WTO and other global partners to expand its vaccine manufacturing and deployment.

President Akufo-Addo told the world leaders that Ghana recognised that vaccination was to protect populations and revitalised societies.

In the case of Africa, he said, vaccinating 70 per cent of the population in the shortest possible time, as was being done elsewhere in the world, would mean that some 900 million Africans would have been vaccinated.

He said the Afreximbank's structuring of the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Taskforce's $2 billion acquisition of 400 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines is part of the historic African Union's COVID-19 Vaccine Development and Access Strategy.

"It is a critical milestone in our collective fight against the pandemic, in a continent suffering the worst brunt of vaccine nationalism", he stated.

The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Taskforce vaccine programme, partly manufactured in South Africa, is the single largest and most far-reaching trade transaction since the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area in January this year, he added.

The social impact of the pandemic, President Akufo-Addo indicated, "has been devastating; over one hundred and three million African jobs have been lost. Women, who account for 40% of total employment, have been most hard hit."

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