The Presidential Candidate of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Dramani Mahama is the latest to make a public show of his injection of the recently delivered AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
After his jab with his wife, Lordina Mahama, he wrote: Lordina and I this morning took our COVID-19 vaccine at the Police Hospital in Accra. I agreed to take the vaccine publicly, to encourage and assure all Ghanaians that the vaccines are safe. As a former Ambassador for the GAVI Alliance, I can confidently say that vaccines are useful in preserving our health. Ghanaians must therefore disregard all the rumours about the vaccine.”
Ex-President Mahama was seeking to dispel the controversies around the reported ineffectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
On Monday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo officially became the first person in Ghana to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
But a few days before the first batches of high-profile vaccination, the Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr. Anthony Nsiah Asare implored Ghanaians to pray so that the newly received AstraZeneca vaccine will become “even more effective”.
“We will pray over the vaccines so that they become even more effective; through the prayers, Ghana could become one of the first countries to defeat COVID-19 through the vaccination,” he told Accra-based Okay FM in an interview monitored by Whatsup News.
Perhaps, his statement was in response to the growing mistrust that the AstraZeneca vaccine has racked up worldwide.
While Ghanaian officials are banking total optimism on the AstraZeneca vaccines, 600,000 doses that were recently given to Ghana “free-of-charge”, many countries are rejecting the vaccine.
France, Germany, Sweden, Austria and Poland have expressed reluctance in injecting people older than 65 years of age with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine because of concerns over its efficacy, Ghana has lined up its elderly, including President Akufo Addo as the first recipients of the just-delivered AstraZeneca Vaccine to Ghana.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated categorically that she will not take the AstraZeneca vaccine because she is “too old” at 66.
In South Africa, deployment of AstraZeneca has been halted altogether after a study revealed that its efficacy level is way lower than advertised. In some cases, it is lower than 10%, and the efficacy rate that ordinary herbal concoctions found in most kitchens can achieve.
Yet, in Ghana, 76-year-old President Akufo Addo took the jab to demonstrate his confidence in the vaccine.
Results of clinical studies that Between April 23 and Nov 4, 2020, some 11,000 participants were covered in a study to determine the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but only a paltry 660 of the participants were around 60 years old and above. The efficacy rate of the vaccine turned out to be approximately 62%, the lowest in all the current vaccines developed for treating COVID-19 worldwide.
Because of the low numbers, the authors of the study concluded that the vaccine’s efficacy in the elderly could not be determined.
A similar study to test the efficacy of a rival vaccine, the Pfizer vaccine enrolled some 38,000 participants and there was a sizeable sample size of the elderly of some 16,000 who were 55 years old and over.
Ghanaians are already divided about the vaccine, with wild conspiracy theories flying around. Some religious people have associated the vaccine with the biblical “Mark of the Beast”.