Government has thus far spent $19.2 million (nearly P200 million) to purchase more than two million COVID-19 doses from various producers, but only 14% have been delivered, frustrating the vaccination rollout, The Monitor has learnt.
Of the two million vaccines ordered and paid for, just 282,890 doses have been delivered thus far, with manufacturers frequently pushing back delivery dates due to the global scramble for vaccines, health authorities said this week.
“I wish to acknowledge that it was never smooth sailing with the supply of these vaccines,” Minister of Health and Wellness, Edwin Dikoloti told Parliament on Friday. “There has been short and delayed supply but we have been doing everything under the sun, constantly engaging with the suppliers for an expedited delivery.” According to Dikoloti, Botswana has ordered 500,000 doses of Moderna for $4.3 million (about P43 million), 100,000 doses for $1.6 million (about P16 million) from Bharat in India and about 1.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine for $7 million (about P70million) through the African Union’s AVATT scheme. The country also paid about $3.3 million (about P33 million) for 940,800 doses under the World Health Organization’s COVAX facility.
The slow delivery of vaccines has forced the country to lean on vaccine donations from China and India, while the United States is expected to share about 80,000 Pfizer doses with Botswana soon.
Dikoloti said, however, health authorities were expecting the delivery of about 1.3 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Sinovac between August and September, which would stabilise the vaccination rollout. Earlier in the week, Presidential Task Force deputy coordinator, Mosepele Mosepele revealed the government’s frustrations with the delivery of vaccines, saying in some cases the expected shipments came in lower than planned and in others, delivered were postponed frequently.
“Previously, we were expecting a delivery and it came short,” he told a televised briefing. “When we asked, they said by June it will be delivered, then they said July, then August. “We were expecting Johnson & Johnson earlier but these had to be disposed of due to safety issues. “These things take us back.” Mosepele said adherence to COVID-19 (health) protocols and stable rollout of vaccines would help the country break out of the third wave of the pandemic, which has pushed daily cases and deaths to an unprecedented level.
“We must never think death is OK or someone being sick is fine. “We must not live as though we have no hope and that the vaccine programme is over. We are always fighting and trying,” Mosepele said.