Updated Feb 24, 2021 - Health

First COVID-19 vaccines distributed by COVAX arrive in West Africa

A medical syringe and a vial in front of the COVAX word are seen in this creative illustrative photo.

Photo: STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The first COVID-19 vaccine doses distributed by the World Health Organization’s global sharing scheme COVAX arrived in Ghana, West Africa, on Wednesday.

Why it matters: The shipments represent the "beginning of what should be the largest vaccine procurement and supply operation in history," per a joint statement from the WHO and UNICEF hailing the arrival as a "momentous occasion."

  • The global initiative to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines has more than 180 nation participants.

Driving the news: Some 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine are now in Ghana's capital Accra.

  • "After a year of disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 80,700 Ghanaians getting infected with the virus and over 580 lost lives, the path to recovery for the people of Ghana can finally begin," the WHO and UNICEF statement said.

What to watch: The COVAX initiative plans to deliver nearly 2 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year.

Go deeper: U.S. commits $4 billion to COVAX vaccine initiative

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