Ghana aims to receive 18 million COVID shots by October

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Workers load a truck with 350,000 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines, redeployed from the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana. May 7, 2021. REUTERS/Francis Kokoroko

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ACCRA, July 25 (Reuters) - Ghana hopes to receive over 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before October as it struggles to contain a third wave of infections, President Nana Akufo-Addo said in a speech on Sunday.

Cases of COVID-19 are rising fast in parts of West Africa, in part due to the arrival of the Delta coronavirus variant which is considered more transmissible than other variants.

The increase has provided a conundrum for African countries, most of which have escaped the levels of infection and serious illness seen in other regions. Many are reluctant to enter lockdown because of the impact on the economy but at the same time have been unable to procure vaccines at the pace of richer countries.

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"Our nation is experiencing a third wave of COVID-19 infections," Akufo-Addo said. "These increased infections have largely been driven by the Delta variant."

Over 101,000 people in Ghana have caught coronavirus and over 800 have died since the pandemic began.

To combat a rise in infections, Ghana's government is in the process of buying 17 million Johnson & Johnson vaccines through the African Medical Supplies Platform in the third quarter of this year, the president said. This would be supplemented by 1 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine from the United States, nearly 230,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the African Union and 249,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Kingdom in the same period.

Ghana is doing relatively well compared to many of its West African counterparts, with nearly 1.3 million vaccine doses administered. But it has fallen behind its goal of acquiring 17.6 million doses by the end of June due in part to a halt in deliveries from India under the vaccine-sharing COVAX scheme.

Akufo-Addo called for tighter enforcement of existing restrictions, including wearing masks in public.

"We cannot afford to return to the days of partial lockdowns, which brought considerable hardships and difficulties," he said.

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Reporting By Christian Akorlie, Writing by Edward McAllister Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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