Gov’t, Covax clash over missing vaccines

  • MoH says COVAX is constantly disappointing
  • More vaccines expected in Aug/Sept

The Government of Botswana is running out of patience with the COVAX facility over arrival of COVID-19 vaccine doses, The Botswana Gazette has established.

As a matter of fact, President Mokgweetsi Masisi is said to be so fed up with COVAX’s unending excuses that he wants the government to procure vaccines directly
from manufacturers.

At the core of the disjuncture are vaccine doses that are reportedly missing in one of the consignments delivered by COVAX early this year. Sources say the COVAX consignment was short of more than 10 000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses.

The Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness, Setlhomo Lelatisitswe, has confirmed the missing vaccine doses while President Masisi recently called the COVAX facility a scam.

“When we went to check on the consignment after it arrived, we realised that doses were missing,” Lelatisitswe said.
“We engaged them and they claimed that they had delivered enough doses.”

He added that the missing doses are a part of the reason why some old-age citizens had not received their second AstraZeneca doses. “The number of people who have not received their second AstraZeneca dose is slightly the same number of doses that we are missing,” Leatisitswe said.

According to the assistant minister, the COVAX “scam” and delays in arrival of procured vaccines led to the Ministry of Health offering Moderna and Pfizer vaccines as second doses. As at 23 July 2021, more than 200 000 Batswana had received their first COVID-19 vaccine dose while a total of 121 518 were fully vaccinated.

“COVAX keeps disappointing us,” Lelatisitswe said. “We wish to state that COVAX is only one of the many platforms we have used to buy COVID-19 vaccines. So far we have bought enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire population. Our biggest challenge right now is
the arrival of these vaccines.”

He disclosed that the country is anticipating the arrival of more than 500 000 doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sinovac and Mordena between August and September. “We cannot be specific about dates because there might be delays in arrivals but we have been assured that most of these vaccines will arrive starting from August and going into September,” Lelatisitswe said.

Meanwhile, international reports say Botswana has so far spent USD10 milion (approximately P100 000 000) in procuring COVID-19 vaccines through various