Ghana became the first country to receive Covid-19 vaccines through the World Health Organization-backed Covax program, which aims to provide at least 2 billion doses to lower-income countries.

The West African nation took delivery of 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccines in the capital, Accra, the WHO and the United Nations Children’s Fund said in a statement Wednesday.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, 76, will take the first shot on March 2 to build trust in the vaccine’s efficacy, Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah said by phone.

Ghana is expecting up to 2.4 million doses from the program, according to Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, a Ghana Health Service epidemiologist. The actual number of vaccines Ghana receives from Covax will depend on market availability, he said.

The shots, co-developed with Oxford University and manufactured by the Serum Institute of India Ltd., are one of the most accessible, and, unlike other vaccines, they don’t need to be stored at frozen temperatures. They can just be refrigerated, making them easier to distribute in less-developed areas.

“We are delighted to see the combined efforts of everyone result in saving the lives of millions,” Adar Poonawalla, Serum’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. The world’s biggest vaccine maker “will continue to be at the forefront of fighting the pandemic with affordable and immunogenic vaccines,” he said.

Africa’s top gold producer is also working to purchase doses directly from manufacturers in a bid to inoculate its 30 million people. Its vaccination drive will prioritize health workers, people with underlying health conditions, and security personnel in its first stage.

Ghana has recorded 81,245 coronavirus infections since its first reported cases in March, including 584 deaths, according to government data.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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