Govt taps private sector for P590m vaccine shortfall



Mmegi is informed that while government has secured vaccine arrangements with distributors such as Moderna, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and others which will fully vaccinate all eligible people, these supplies need to be paid for as and when they become available from the manufacturers.

In a statement on Wednesday evening, Professor Mosepele Mosepele, the chairperson of the Botswana COVID-19 Vaccine Committee said the entire vaccination effort, including securing doses, logistics and distribution, was estimated to cost P1.6 billion.

Of this figure, the government has already spent about P701 million. The vaccination programme for those over 55 years is understood to be already covered and nearing completion in terms of distribution.

Mosepele said for the balance of funds required and the vaccinations outstanding, P152 million would be contributed by medical aids for their patients and another P167 million would be covered by willing private sector employers.

“The funds raised by the private sector shall be kept in a private sector established financial tool, which will ensure transparency and governance of the said funds,” he said.

“Therefore, the release of funds will be governed by contractual requirements and based upon specific requirements being met.”

Task Force spokesperson, Kago Mmopi further told Mmegi that while Botswana had entered into arrangements with vaccine manufacturers to secure supply, when these vaccines became available, payments had to be made before shipment. Securing supply simply means entering into an agreement to be supplied. Payment is required once the shipment is ready from production.

“When they come off the production line, we have to pay so that they are shipped to us,” he said on Thursday.

“There’s nothing being stored; as soon as they are produced, they need to be shipped out because the demand globally is very high.

“Before COVID-19, global vaccine production was about five billion and it has skyrocketed to more than 10 billion.

“The demand outstrips the supply.”

The situation, he said, makes it difficult to predetermine when the next supply will be made by the manufacturers.

As of Wednesday, the country had vaccinated about 150,000 people with their first doses of the various COVID-19 vaccines being used in the country. The second round of vaccinations officially began this week.

Government is eager to fast-track the acquisition of vaccines and their distribution in order to hold off a possible new wave of COVID-19 infections in the country. South Africa is presently wrestling with the onset of a third wave of the virus, with infections in that country passing just under 9,000 a day recently, from lows of about 500 earlier this year.

Editor's Comment
Transparency Key In COVID-19 Fight

When the pandemic reached Botswana’s shores last year March, a nation united in the quest to defeat an invisible enemy. It is a moment never witnessed in recent memory, with the catastrophes of the world war and the 1918 Spanish influenza being the only other comparisons in living memory. Botswana, like the rest of the world, had to readjust its priorities and channel most, if not all, of its energies towards fighting COVID-19. It has not been...

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