Botswana dodges bullet as India suspends vaccine exports


The country's COVID-19 vaccination programme is expected to remain on track despite the Serum Institute of India (SII) this week’s announcing it will stop exporting doses to Africa and other countries for the next seven months as the virus ravages its home country.

SII, which has the capacity to produce 70 million COVID-19 vaccines monthly has been the single biggest provider of vaccines under the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility, the 180-country scheme designed to equitably share vaccines. The scheme was jolted on Tuesday when SII chief executive, Adar Poonawalla said the earliest the vaccine producer would resume exports would be at the end of the year. As the news reverberated around the world, it emerged that Botswana is only one of five African countries insulated from the freeze in production. Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Mauritius and Libya are self-financing their participation in the COVAX facility and thus will not be receiving their supplies from India, but from other AstraZeneca producers in Europe and South Korea.

Botswana and the four other countries have paid directly to participate in COVAX, while the other countries are funding their obligations partly through donors and third-party loans.  The country received 24,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced in South Korea on March 28, out of the total expected 100,800 doses paid for. Confirming this arrangement this week, a GAVI spokesperson told Mmegi that more doses were due to arrive in Botswana by end of next month. GAVI is the Bill Gates-funded NGO partnering with the WHO on COVAX. “COVAX expects that all countries allocated the AstraZeneca vaccine in the February/May allocation round should receive allocated doses by the end of June provided there are no further delays from the manufacturer,” the spokesperson said in response to e-mailed questions.

Editor's Comment
Bravo police for prompt action

It is also hurting that whilst we all know that the Botswana Police Service (BPS) is charged functionally with the duties to investigate all forms of crime, some locals have resorted to taking the law into their own hands. It is very wrong to do that. There is also a possibility that one may wrongfully take the life of a person in the process, unless it is a justifiable case of self-defence. Recently, in the city of Francistown, some locals found...

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