Ghana Will Fine Airlines for Allowing Unvaccinated Travelers
Ghana’s government announced Monday it will fine airlines $3,500 per passenger if the traveler in question arrives in Ghana without proof of vaccination against the Chinese coronavirus, Africa News reported Tuesday.
“While Ghanaians who fly in without meeting the requirement will be allowed to enter the country and undergo a 14-day quarantine, non-Ghanaian nationals who are not fully vaccinated may be banned from entering the country and returned to the airport they departed from at the cost of the airline,” according to the news site.
The Ghana Health Service announced on December 9 it would require all foreign travelers aged 18 years and older entering Ghana on international flights to present “evidence of full vaccination for a COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] vaccine” starting December 12.
The government body said it would only recognize travelers as “fully vaccinated” if they received coronavirus vaccines from a list of brands approved by the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority (FDA). Ghana FDA has so far approved Chinese coronavirus vaccines made by AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna for use in the West African nation.
The Ghana Health Service, which is an agency of Ghana’s Ministry of Health, said in a press release on December 9 it decided to impose a vaccine mandate on foreign travelers based on a recent “surge” in new Chinese coronavirus cases recorded at Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra, Ghana. The health body said it had detected 241 new coronavirus infections at KIA in November, with an average caseload of 20 per day.
“The new variant Omicron, which is said to be more transmissible has been detected at our airport [sic],” the statement revealed.
The Ghana Health Service referred to the latest strain of “Covid-19,” or the Chinese coronavirus, discovered in Botswana on November 11. “Covid-19” is the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, a type of coronavirus.
Ghana FDA’s inclusion of Jonhson & Johnson’s vaccine on its list of approved immunizations against the Chinese coronavirus in its December 9 press release has raised concerns given the agency claimed in the same document to have imposed a vaccine mandate on foreign travelers in part to prevent transmission of Omicron.
“Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine produced virtually no antibody protection against the omicron coronavirus variant in a laboratory experiment,” Bloomberg reported on December 14 after reviewing a new study led by South African virologist Penny Moore.
“[A] key measure of antibody levels fell from 303 against the original strain to undetectable levels against Omicron in those with the J&J [Johnson & Johnson] shot,” according to Bloomberg.
“Omicron does indeed exhibit substantial immune escape from antibodies,” Moore said in a presentation of her study on December 14.
“The situation, I think, is even more alarming for the J&J vaccine — there was no detectable neutralization in our assay,” the virologist revealed.