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Cabinet Delays COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-Out

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• Task force says cabinet is yet to approve vaccine roll out
•  Infection rate surges as cabinet quibbles over logistics
• Prof. Moseple warns vacine will be limited

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

President Mokgweetsi Masisi and his cabinet are reportedly holding back approval for the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine doses. The Botswana Gazette understands that cabinet is yet to make a decision on when and how the roll-out of the vaccine will happen.

Botswana signed an agreement last year with a global vaccine distribution scheme that is co-led by the World Health Organisation, giving the country an option to buy coronavirus vaccines for 20% of its population.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Moses Keetile, was quoted by international media last year stating that the country had made an upfront payment to COVAX and would have the option to secure roughly 940,800 vaccine doses under a two-dose regimen.

On Monday, the Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force, Professor Mosepele Mosepele, revealed on Btv that he and his team were waiting on cabinet to make a resolution on the matter.

“Cabinet is looking into the issue of COVID-19 vaccines,” Professor Mosepele said. “It is going to be a very huge assignment for the vaccine to reach all corners of the country, which has also been a challenge even in developed countries. There will be public education about the vaccine, especially the issue of side effects so that when we roll out the vaccine, Batswana are comfortable to take it. Experts and researchers have proved that the vaccine will work.”

Botswana’s COVID-19 death toll recently rose from 47 to 58 in less than two weeks while the cabinet quibbles over logistics. This has prompted some to call for the speeding up of the roll-out of the vaccine. South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday announced that 20 million vaccine doses for his country had been secured with most to be delivered this year.

“We have put in place a comprehensive vaccination strategy to reach all parts of the country. This will be the largest and most complex logistical undertaking in our country’s history,” Ramaphosa said.

“It will be far more extensive than our HIV treatment programme or even our national, provincial and local elections in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time. It will require the active involvement of all spheres of government, all sectors of society and all citizens and residents of our country.”

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