COVID: ‘We can’t afford to be naked the next time; let’s produce our own vaccines’ – Akufo-Addo to ECOWAS

President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana has urged his fellow heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which he chairs, to endeavour to put in the necessary infrastructure and investment to enable them to produce their own vaccines, when the need arises, so that the continent is not caught unprepared and dependent on the western world the next time a pandemic à la COVID-19 strikes.

Currently, the continent is struggling to come by COVID-19 vaccines for her citizens due to the global scramble for them.

Speaking at the opening session of the 59th ECOWAS summit in Accra on Saturday, 19 June 2021, President Akufo-Addo said: “All the countries in the region have taken delivery of some vaccines, supplemented by procurement by some member states”.

“I thank foreign friends of the community who have contributed to funding the initiative.”

“We note, however, that the quantities received are wholly insufficient”, he complained.

“We must, thus, continue to work on the purchase and production of vaccines in our region”, he urged.

The Ghanaian leader said: “We have to encourage members of our community such as Nigeria, Senegal, and my own country, Ghana, who are making the efforts to produce their own vaccines”.

“We cannot afford to be naked the next time”, he warned.

In a recent speech at an SDG forum at the Jubilee House, the seat of Ghana’s presidency, Mr Akufo-Addo confessed thus: “We have obvious difficulties as far as the [COVID] vaccination programme is concerned”.

“Unfortunately, we are the victims of this worldwide shortage of vaccines that poor and less-advantaged nations are experiencing by not having access to the vaccines”.

“So, that, of course, is a major challenge for us, the procurement logistics and the issues involved in it.”

A member of Ghana’s COVID-19 response team,Dr Bernard Okoe Boye,also noted that the government is considering other options to get vaccines for the country.

“What is happening to Ghana is a global issue. So, what we are doing is that this government is engaging directly with other European countries who have stock of AstraZeneca and are not deploying them that much. So, we will continue to explore,” he said.

He continued: “It will be difficult to speak and state the specific date because with this Africa platform that we are using and the direct Russia government engagement people are talking about, they tell us that it will take six or 12 months before the vaccines will come and remember in a year, a lot can happen