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Private sector, govt at loggerheads over vaccine procurement

PAULINE DIKUELO
COVISHIELD vaccine. PIC. THALEFANG CHARLES
The private sector is seeking inclusion, the ability to procure  the COVID-19 (AstraZeneca) for their employees, families and the communities that they operate in.

Mmegi has learnt that government has been blocking the private sector’s attempts as it felt the move might affect its ongoing  vaccine rollout..

Briefing the media this week, Business Botswana (BB) president Gobusamang Keebine said some private companies have come forth raising concern about the arrangement.

“Private companies have come forth to air their disappointment after they were turned down by government which felt that the arrangement would tamper with its  rollout strategy. To their shock, government preferred them to donate money instead,” he said.

However government has issued a press release denying the allegations noting that the private sector is included in the vaccine deployment plan through its membership of the National Vaccine Committee and they even assisted in the development of the plan.

“The President has established the COVID-19 Vaccine Public and Private Partnerships (PPP), co-chaired  by the private sector , the objective of which, is to  jointly develop a National Implementation Strategy on the Vaccine Procurement and Rollout and to advice government on the mutual engagement with any individual or company

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that may wish to assist in the vaccine rollout,” read the statement.

Botswana recently received 30,000 doses of the COVISHIELD vaccine which is the brand name of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine manufactured under licence by the Serum Institute of India. Earlier this month, the United States of America donated 33,600 doses to Botswana.  As part of the rollout, only those who are aged above 75 have been prioritised.

Government is expecting more than 100,000 AstraZenca doses under the World Health Organisation’s COVAX arrangement, as well as more being procured from Johnson and Johnson. As a self financing country, Botswana is receiving its COVAX doses directly from AstraZeneca as opposed to the Serum Institute of India where nearly all the rest of Africa is receiving from.

 Other vaccines are expected from the African Union’s Union scheme, to which Botswana also self financed its participation.

Meanwhile government has launched an online self-registration platform for the COVID-19 vaccination. The platform will be used to register eligible e COVID-19 vaccine beneficiaries prior to receiving the vaccine.



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