The Head of the West Africa Center for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens at the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awandare, is urging the government to consider the procurement of Pfizer vaccines to combat the new COVID-19 strains.
Ghana has recorded two cases of the highly most transmissible COVID-19 variant, referred to as the Delta Variant originating from India.
Experts say although the AstraZeneca and Sputnik-V vaccines are effective, they are not suitable to fight the new strain.
In an interview with Citi News, Professor Gordon Awandare said procuring the Pfizer vaccines puts the country in a better position to fight the new variant.
“If you look at the new variants that we have had (South African variant and the Indian variants) and look at the data from all the other countries, the Pfizer vaccine seems to be the one that is able to have a more reliable effect on these variants.”
“In terms of all these levels of protection (deaths, hospitalization). So the Pfizer vaccine seems to do better against these new variants.”
Prof. Gordon Awandare added that preparations are underway to test a newer version of the Sputnik-V, with the sampling of over 1,000 persons.
“This is based on comparing two groups of people; maybe 1,000 or 2,000 people, you give some the vaccine and you give others a dummy vaccine, and then you monitor them for a few months, and then you test them again to see those who have been infected and have not been infected to see whether the vaccine is protecting them or not.”
Prof. Awandare also called for strict adherence to COVID-19 protocols to avoid a spread of the highly contagious variant.
“It is not too different from the normal COVID in terms of the clinical presentation. It means that if the original COVID-19 infected ten people for each infected person, this will infect maybe 17 or 18 people. The good thing is that the same protocols will work. It is about how we strictly adhere to those protocols.”
How far with Ghana’s vaccination exercise
Ghana took delivery of 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility in addition to 50,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Indian government, and 165,000 from MTN for its mass vaccination program.
The country has since been struggling to get more vaccines to immunize its target of 20 million people.
It later emerged that the government is using the services of middlemen to procure some of Russia’s Sputnik-V vaccines but at a higher cost of US$ 19 other than the original factory price of US$ 10.
This move has not gone done well with some stakeholders, including the Minority in Parliament which is calling for the abrogation of the procurement contract.