Says the idea is to secure shipments as soon as the vaccines are available
Following their recent approval, the government has paid upfront for Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines for children, The Botswana Gazette has established.
“It is true that many countries, including South Africa, are desirous of vaccinating all their people, including children,” the Chief Public Relations Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Nyanga, said in an interview.
“As was indicated by the President in his last address, Botswana is ready to have all children vaccinated once vaccines suitable for children are available. Botswana has been keeping a close eye on Pfizer and Sinovac vaccine manufacturers that have been working on vaccinating children younger than 17 years.”
Nyanga added that although the aim is to vaccinate all eligible children, the quantity of doses to be obtained will depend on the age groups that available vaccines are suitable for.
He said advance payment was made to various platforms to ensure that shipping gets underway as soon as the vaccines are available. “We have already ordered these vaccines, including for adult populations, because the intention is to ensure that the nation is vaccinated,” Nyanga emphasised.
He noted that although Botswana continues to be a part of the COVAX facility, the government has diversified sources of vaccines.
President Mokgweetsi Masisi first disclosed payment for children’s vaccines in his last address to the nation on Btv. “Botswana is simultaneously negotiating for additional doses from several companies,” said the President. “The negotiations include vaccines for children under 12 years. Our plan is to pre-purchase doses for children even before the clinical trials are completed.”
Sinovac began COVID-19 clinical trials on children aged between 6 months and 17 years last week.
So far, less than 300 000 of Botswana’s adult population has been vaccinated while 12 babies under the age of 12 months have succumbed to COVID-19 since last year out of a total 1 764 infants infected.
Greater Gaborone DHMT had the highest number of both infections and deaths with a total of 480 infections and 3 deaths since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.