The Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) Caucus has called on the government to expedite action on the procurement and deployment of covid-19 vaccines to prevent further health risks.
At an emergency press conference, the Minority complained about the delay in the arrival of the vaccines for the second dose of Covid-19 injections.
”It was expected that the vaccines would have arrived before the 28th of April so that those who had taken their first jabs could take the second jabs and those not vaccinated would get the opportunity,” Mr Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, the Ranking Member on the Committee of Health said at a press conference on Sunday in Parliament House.
“However, today is the 2nd of May, and as we speak, not an additional dose of AstraZeneca vaccines have arrived, putting Ghanaians who already had the first jab at risk of losing the partial immunity they acquired through vaccination,” Mr Akandoh added.
He said, “this has the potential to make some Ghanaians procure from unauthorized sources sub-standard jabs of Covid-19 vaccines to extend the protection they have after taking the first jab.”
The Minority accused the government of waiting for freebies, in terms of foreign and donor assistance, and wondered to what use an estimated amount of $420 million allocated to the procurement of 42 million vaccines targeted at 20 million Ghanaians by the end of the year was being put.
“Contrary to government’s chorus of ‘Ghana Beyond Aid’, we have so far depended on aid from donor partners to vaccinate Ghanaians and it raises serious concerns about the capacity and competence of Government to deliver on its to promise,” the Minority said.
There is information that 200,000 AstraZeneca vaccines originally meant for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) but reallocated to Ghana would expire next June.
“This means on arrival, Government will have to fast-track its deployment so that it does not go waste,” Mr Akandoh suggested and further called on the government to take additional steps to ensure that the vaccines coming from the DRC or elsewhere meet all the necessary safety and efficacy standards.
The Minority called on the Government to diversify the source of supply of Covid-19 vaccines, as India a major exporter of the vaccines, was facing challenges with high numbers of infections and associated deaths.
The Minority further said the government had almost three months to put in place a vaccination plan, but that plan was rendered almost ineffective because of a challenge with one supplier.
The Minority Caucus suggested to the Government to provide adequate funding for medical research agencies to conduct clinical trials on the various vaccines in the country, as Mr Akandoh explained that the country could not depend on genetic research result of the impact on vaccines on the general population.
“We must conduct our localized research to have country-specific results that will inform our strategy and tactical deployments,” Mr Akandoh, who is also the MP for Juaboso Constituency, said.
Mr Akandoh suggested that the government engaged in a public-private partnership to source for the vaccines if funding was a problem.
Mr A.B.A Fuseini, Ranking Member on the Committee on Communication and MP for Saganarigu, cautioned against the third wave of Covid-19 infections, which he said could be riskier than previous ones.
He said vaccination on the pandemic should be continuous.
Other members of the Minority Caucus were Mrs Elizabeth Ofosu Agyare, MP for Techiman North; and Mr Mohammed Adamu Ramadan, MP for Adenta.