The Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research has urged the general public to continue to adhere to all covid-19 prevention protocols after recording 34 cases of the Omicron variant in sequenced samples that were taken from 120 returning travellers.
The samples were taken between 21 and 25 November 2021.
The discovery comes after the Ghana Health Service told the media that Ghana has so far recorded its first two cases of the variant.
The Acting Director of the Ghana Infectious Disease Centre, Dr Joseph Oliver-Commey, said if the government plans to achieve herd immunity during the Christmas festivities, it will have to intensify public education and sensitisation on the need for vaccination against the pandemic.
With the fear of the country entering a fourth wave of the pandemic and a possible surge in cases after the yuletide, the ministry of health has declared December as a month of COVID-19 vaccination.
Persons who are not vaccinated will be denied entry into places such as sports stadia, restaurants, beaches among others.
About 3,493,688 Ghanaians have been vaccinated so far
The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye has said the GHS will make the Covid-19 vaccine compulsory if need be.
“I am sure that with time we will get there and it is something that we have to do to bring this pandemic under control and we need to ensure that almost everybody is protected. If it comes to that I think we will not hesitate to recommend that.
“We have companies in this country that have mandated that if you have not vaccinated, you can’t come to work… we have to bring the virus under control, we need to ensure that everybody is protected,” Dr. Kuma-Aboagye said on Accra-based Asaase Radio on Monday.
The government aims to vaccinate 20 million Ghanaians by the end of the year, however, as of November 18, 2021, only 3,493,688 Ghanaians had been vaccinated.
Meanwhile, students aged 15 years and above will soon be vaccinated against COVID-19 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
This follows the approval “for extending the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to cover children from 15 years and above.”
Initially, only persons above age 17 were given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
A statement issued by the Ghana Education Service (GES) signed by its Director-General, Prof Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa, noted that “as part of measures at halting the spread of COVID-19 in schools and among the general public, the Ghana Health Service has planned to vaccinate all children aged 15 years and above as soon as possible to increase their level of protection against COVID-19.”
The letter urged all Regional and District Directors of education to “work closely with their colleague Regional and District Directors of Health to facilitate the vaccination of all 15 years or older in schools across the country
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) said evidence locally and internationally shows that vaccination against the Covid-19 accounts for the steady decline in positive cases.
Additionally, improving adherence to Covid-19 safety and enforcement protocols also contributed significantly to the decline.
Ghana has recorded 128 positive cases of COVID-19 this September, 273 in August and 500 in July, this year.
The GHS said as of September 23, 2021, there were 3,578 active cases, 1,147 deaths, 122,000 recoveries and 126,803 cumulative positive cases after 1.7 million tests.
At a media briefing in Accra on Sunday to update the public on COVID-19 cases, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, the Director-General of GHS, said the Service had so far inoculated 1.6 million Ghanaians, with 89 per cent of the vaccines coming from AstraZeneca, 10 per cent from Johnson & Johnson, and one per cent from Sputnik V.
He called for aggressive deployment of COVID-19 vaccines across the 16 regions, especially in market places, lorry parks, churches and mosques.null
Dr Kuma-Aboagye said the country had received nearly five million doses of the AstraZeneca Covishield from India, 21,000 doses of Sputnik V, 450,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson, and 1.2 million of Moderna vaccines.
Achieving herd immunity against
the Covid-19 had been government’s primary goal to halt the spread of the disease, he said.
President Akufo-Addo, in February this year, announced that although his administration sought to vaccinate the entire population, he aimed to vaccinate 20 million of the populace by the end of the year.
German Ambassador, Daniel Krull and the Deputy Minister of Health Alhaji Mahama Asei Seini in a symbolic handover of the vaccine doses.
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has taken delivery of 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covishield vaccine donated by the German government.××
The donation follows the announcement of additional Covid-19 vaccine support to Ghana by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, during the Africa Summit held in August 2021.
It is the second covid-19 consignment to be delivered to the country by the German government through the COVAX facility under the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) distribution platform.
German Ambassador to Ghana, Daniel Krull, speaking at the brief handing over ceremony at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA), expressed his appreciation to the partners, including global logistics giant DHL, for the smooth and safe delivery of the vaccine to the country.
He said the donation adds to the 389,200 vaccine doses already donated to the country.
He further noted that the German government is planning to donate another 385,000 vaccine doses via the COVAX facility shortly.
“This will increase the number of Covid-19 vaccines donated to Ghana from Germany to 2.3 million doses,” he said.
Ambassador Krull further noted that complementary to the vaccine, Germany has provided equipment like a full Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for a hospital in Takoradi, 45 ventilators and 5,000 pulse oximeters for several hospitals in Ghana.
“We have supported laboratories at the Kumasi Center for Collaborative Research (KCCR) and the Noguchi Memorial Institute as well as provided personal protective equipment including 470,000 face masks and nutritious meals for frontline health workers. In total, Germany’s bilateral support to Ghana amounts to a value of more than 25 million Euros,” he said.
He iterated that COVAX is helping to vaccinate people worldwide to prevent the risk of new mutations of the virus thus, Germany is donating 100 million doses primarily to countries in transition and developing countries under the facility.
Deputy Health Minister, Alhaji Mahama Asei Seini, who received the vaccine together with officials from the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF, expressed his gratitude to the German government for the support given to the country’s health sector.
“We are all aware of the difference your logistic, technical and financial support has made in the management of Covid-19 in Ghana,” he stated.
Alhaji Seini urged citizens to respond to the kind gesture by making themselves available to be vaccinated to enable the country attain its planned herd immunity against Covid-19
Beginning Friday 24 September, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) says it is continuing with the COVID-19 vaccination exercise across the country
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has announced that it is continuing with the COVID-19 vaccination exercise throughout the country, starting Friday 24 September 2021.
The GHS in a statement said “this phase of the exercise is open to the general public”, adding that persons 18 years and older who have never received a vaccine or have received only “one dose of AstraZeneca are to participate in this exercise.”
“The Ghana Health Service wishers to inform the general public that it has taken delivery of additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines. As part of the rollout plan, the Service is continuing the vaccination exercise starting from Friday 24 September 2021,” the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, said in the statement.
All eligible persons have been advised to take along their valid photo ID cards “when visiting any designated centre within their respective regions for vaccination.”
“Persons due for the second dose of AstraZeneca should preferably send the ID card presented for the first dose as well as their COVID-19 vaccination card… By this release, the Service is again entreating the general public to continue to adhere to all COVID-19 protocols such as the appropriate wearing of face marks, maintaining hand hygiene and physical distancing.
“The Ghana Health Service would like to take this opportunity to reassure the general public that the country is not relenting in its efforts at acquiring additional vaccines to control the COVID-19 epidemic,” the statement said.
Since March 2021, over one million persons have received at least one does of AstraZeneca, Sputnik-V or Johnson & Johnson vaccine with nearly 800,000 of them fully vaccinated.
The US government has promised to donate some 1.3 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to Ghana in addition to the 1.2 million Moderna vaccines from America on 4 September 2021
The Ghana Health Service says it doesn’t know what the mixture of two different vaccines would bring and has therefore warned Ghanaians who have already taken the AstraZeneca, to stay off the J&J.
Director-General of the Ghana Health Service has advised persons who have been vaccinated with AstraZeneca not to present themselves to be inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as they may put their lives at risk.
Dr. Patrick Kuma-Aboagye said the Ghana Health Service does not have adequate evidence on the safety of mixing vaccines, hence, persons who have already received jabs of the AstraZeneca vaccines must refrain from taking any of the Johnson & Johnson jabs.
He told JoyNews, Friday, August 13, 2021, “we have a mechanism of checking on how we ensure that we are giving to those who are qualified.”
“I believe that if someone’s intention is to cheat, by telling them how we intend to check, will make it difficult for us to check, but we don’t have enough evidence for the safety of mixing vaccines and in terms of what benefits you get,” he said.
He further said government has made provisions for the procurement of some 16.9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines which would be received in batches.
Ghana took delivery of 177,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on August 7, 2021, as part of the first batch of the Africa Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT).
“This is just the first of many tranches that will be coming in. This is a vaccine that is being shared across the world. We know that for the J & J, our stock of what we have secured is about 16.9 million doses.
“They’d be coming from time to time and very soon we’d get a few more tranches,” he said.
Procurement of AstraZeneca vaccines
Dr. Kuma-Aboagye hinted government would take delivery of AstraZeneca doses early September.
“Early next month, we will have AstraZeneca for the second dose. The time does not depend only on the Ghana Health Service but it depends on the supplier, availability of transportation to bring it in here.”
“When all those things are put in place, we’d get to know the date of arrival. We should have AstraZeneca next month,” he disclosed.
The Ghana Health Service on Friday, August 13, 2021, launched a new website aimed at giving it higher visibility and also make its operations more effective.
“Ghana Health Service has always had our website but we realized that it was not fit for purpose, especially in this day and age. The last few months we’ve been working on updating the website, getting a new website also ensuring that our social media platforms are all included, including all the Covid platforms.
“We have also established websites within the new website for the regions so that they can also manage their website, share information, communicate all their works to other people and that will increase our visibility,” Dr. Kuma-Aboagye explained.
He added: “This website, http://www.ghs.gov.gh, is more interactive. It has all our social media handles all linked up to it and then we have also formed a special team that will continuously be updating the website with new information.
“We have a media pad where all our press releases will be published apart from what we send to you. We have areas where our events will be advertised and also share all our responses with you.”
The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has approved two more COVID-19 vaccines for importation, distribution, and use in Ghana.
The two new vaccines are Moderna (Spikevax) and Pfizer-BioNtech (Comirnaty), bringing the total number of approved COVID-19 vaccines for use in the country to five.
The others are Sputnik V, Covishield and Covidd-19 Vaccine Jassen.
The FDA, in a statement, said it will continue to use the Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA) pathway, which is the acceptable procedure for all national regulatory authorities globally, in order to ensure timely access to quality and safe medical products including vaccines during this pandemic.
The authority has assured the public that all approved COVID-19 vaccines have been subjected to rigorous safety parameters and, therefore, the public can take them without reservations
• He gave reasons to as why he procured the Russian Sputnik V through a middleman at $19
• The minister said he took that step to save the lives of dying Ghanaians
Health Minister, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has noted that he procured the Russian Sputnik V vaccines from a middle man, Sheik Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum out of frustration.
He explained that at the time of the procurement of the vaccines, the number of Ghanaians dying from coronavirus was on the high, hence, his action, to protect the lives of Ghanaians.
Appearing before the parliamentary committee to answer questions on the overpriced vaccines, the Health Minister said, “February, 78, March 56, these were the numbers [of people dying] and if you, any of us here were the Health Minister at the time, I think you might have taken certain decisions that on hindsight or going forward you may not have done those things. This was the environment that I found myself in. Out of desperation, frustration, so many things and people were dying we needed to protect our citizens.”
The contract has however been terminated after the middleman did not meet the obligations required of him.null
Ghana government through Health Minister Kwaku Agyeman-Manu reportedly entered an agreement for the supply of 3.4 million doses at a unit cost of $19 after the initial cost of $25 was negotiated.
The factory price for the Sputnik V vaccine is $10 but several factors contributed to pegging it at $19.
Some of the factors that contributed to the $19 price tag included; land transportation, shipment, handling and special storage charges.
The presidential advisor on health says the country does not have adequate facilities and equipment to treat patients should Ghana face a new wave of COVID-19
Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, the Presidential Advisor on Health has admonished all Ghanaians to adhere strictly to COVID-19 safety protocols as he warns a third wave of the deadly virus could overwhelm the country.
His assertions follow a confirmation that the country’s hospitals are currently burdened by new severe infections of COVID-19, especially the UK strain and the Delta variant.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with host of The Big Bulletin, Beatrice Adu, he said the country currently does not have adequate facilities, equipment and health practitioners to treat patients should Ghana experience a new wave of COVID-19, especially in the hotspots like the Greater Accra and the Ashanti regions.
“We know that the active cases are going up, we have also seen a slight increase in the number of severe cases, and critical cases.
“So, once we see active cases going up it means the critical care beds, which are the most important beds because they are for people who need emergency care, oxygen and the rest must be available and unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of critical beds in the country and for that matter, in the hotspot areas like Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi metropolis. So that is where our concern is and we are entreating everybody to obey strictly the COVID-19 protocols,” Dr Asare said.
Adhere to protocols
He also refuted claims that the increase in the country’s case count is as a result of the new Delta variant explaining that the number of active cases would continue to increase if Ghanaians do not adhere to COVID-19 safety precautions.
“The new strain is very transmissible, and it spreads very quickly but the most important thing is, whether it is the new strain, Wuhan strain or any other strain, the most important thing is, put on your mask, wash your hands, and use sanitisers, and don’t go to crowded places,” he warned.
Ghana’s active cases stand at 2, 314 as the death toll hits 802
The number of active COVID-19 cases in Ghana has risen to 1,674, the latest figures of the Ghana Health Service indicate.
Of that number, 9 are in critical condition and 19 cases have been categorised as severe.
Since mid-March 2020, a total of 796 people have died of the virus.
Ghana has recorded a total of 95,914 since the virus entered the country last year, with 93,444 recoveries.
Greater Accra Region – 52,710
Ashanti Region – 15,984
Western Region – 5,936
Eastern Region – 4,407null
Central Region – 3,551
Volta Region – 2,609
Northern Region – 1,660
Bono East Region – 1,446
Bono Region – 1,425
Upper East Region – 1,320
Western North Region – 916
Ahafo Region – 775null
Upper West Region – 500
Oti Region – 459
North East Region – 231
Savanna Region – 123
Meanwhile, the Delta variant of the pandemic has been detected in a senior high school in the national capital, Accra.
This was disclosed by the Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe.
He said: “Yesterday [Friday], we had information that the school had actually detected a Delta variant and this, somehow, confirms what we were anticipating”.
“The parents of the students who have been infected have been informed”, he said.null
The Ministry of Information, on Friday, announced that the Delta variant has been found in a community within the country.
“At 10:00hours on Friday, 2 July 2021, the Covid-19 task force was advised by the Ghana Health Service that the Delta variant of the SARS-Cov-2 virus has been recorded within a community (ie non-arriving passengers) in the latest round of genomic sequencing”, the Ministry posted on its Facebook page.
It said the “relevant agencies are taking the necessary steps to ensure that spread is contained”.
The positive persons, it noted, “are in good health”.
“The task force will provide further details at 13:00hours on Sunday, 4 July 2021”, the ministry promised.
It urged the general public to “adhere strictly to the COVID preventive etiquette while going about permitted activities”.
About two weeks ago, six Delta variants of the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19 virus) were detected from all the samples taken between April and June 2021 at the ports of entry, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) disclosed.
A statement signed by the Director-General of the GHS, Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, on Tuesday, 22 June 2021, however, said at the time that “no Delta variant has been detected from samples taken from cases in the community”.null
According to the statement, the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are effective against the deadly Indian strain of the Coronavirus detected, known as the Delta variant in Ghana recently.
In reaction to an online publication discrediting the potency of vaccines against the Delta variant of the virus, detected at the Kotoka International Airport, the statement noted that “reports that Sputnik-V and AstraZeneca vaccines are not effective against the Delta strain of SARS-Cov-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are untrue”.
The statement revealed that according to data from the Public Health England (PHE), “two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are highly effective against hospitalisation due to the Delta variant and showed no deaths among those vaccinated.”
“A study conducted by Gamaleya Center suggests that Sputnik-V is more efficient against the Delta variant of coronavirus, first detected in India, compared to other COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement said.
“The data also suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant,” GHS added.
The statement further reiterated the measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus at the airport saying: “All passengers who test positive are put under mandatory isolation.”
“All positive samples are sent for further testing (genomic sequencing) to identify the variants”.
It added that variants sequenced from samples of positive cases at the Airport do not necessarily end up in the community
• GHS has denied reports that AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are not effective against the Delta strain of COVID-19null
• This was contained in a press release copied to GhanaWeb
• Prof Gordon Awendare had said, vaccines may not be entirely effective against the Delta variant
The Ghana Health Service (GHS) says it is untrue for anybody to suggest that the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are not effective against the new Indian Delta strain of COVID-19 which has been detected in Ghana.
Patrick Kuma-Aboagye, Director-General, GHS, in a statement copied to GhanaWeb indicated that the claims were not backed by data.
“According to Public Health England (PHE), two doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are highly effective against hospitalization due to the Delta variant and showed no deaths among those vaccinated.null
A study conducted by Gamaleya Centre suggests that Sputnik-V is more efficient against the Delta variant of coronavirus first detected in India, compared to other COVID-19 vaccines,” the statement read in parts.
Professor Gordon Awendare, Head of the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens, WACCBIP, University of Ghana, told Joy Prime on Monday, June 21, that the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines may not be entirely effective against the Delta variant.
“Now we have to be looking at the right vaccines. All this while, we’ve been fixed on AstraZeneca and Sputnik V but we have to shift towards more of Pfizer and others which have a better chance of protecting against this variant. Because the future is, we are going towards these aggressive variants,” he said.
Dr Patrick Kuma-Aboagye’s statement noted the data available to the GHS “suggest that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against symptomatic disease caused by the Delta variant”.null
He assured Ghanaians that, “in the midst of global supply shortages, the MOH and GHS are diligently working with Government to ensure that adequate vaccines are procured to protect the population. The MOH, GHS and the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) are working collaboratively to ensure that vaccines that come into the country are safe and effective.”
Dr Kuma-Aboagye, then urged, “Ghanaians to take advantage of [the] vaccination when their turn is due while entreating the general public to adhere to the COVID-19 prevention protocols i.e., wearing of face masks, practising of hand hygiene and physical distancing as part of the strategies.”
Hydroxyurea, a modifying therapy for sickle cell is expected to be provided under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The move, according to Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, is to help improve the physical health of people living with sickle cell in Ghana.
“This is a promise that has been fulfilled by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,” he said in a post on Facebook.
“As the world marked Sickle Cell Awareness Day on 19th June, I am pleased to announce that at a meeting I chaired on June 8, 2021, with stakeholders including Professor Ohene Frimpong, President of the Sickle Cell Foundation, the Minister of Health, the National Health Insurance Authority and Novartis, it was agreed that hydroxyurea, a modifying therapy for sickle cell will now be provided under the NHIS to improve the physical health of people living with it.