Scarcity of COVID-19 vaccines a global challenge; government will continue to explore – Okoe Boye

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A member of government’s Covid-19 Response Team, Dr. Bernard Oko-Boye has said that the scarcity of Covid-19 vaccines is not peculiar to Ghana, but government is exploring all opportunities to get vaccines to inoculate the greater majority of citizens left to be vaccinated.

In the wake of the scramble for Covid-19 vaccines, government has come under the lenses of scrutiny for opting for premium-rated vaccines at the financial expense of the country.

But the actors in the Covid-19 management insist their decision is necessary to obtain the need jabs for the second phase of the country’s vaccination exercise, as several of the diplomatic efforts to get vaccines have failed.

Currently, health authorities say, they are in talks with other European countries while exploring other feasible commercial options to get vaccines for the country.

“What is happening to Ghana is a global issue. So what we are doing is that, this government is engaging directly with other European countries who have stock of AstraZeneca and are not deploying them that much. So we will continue to explore”, Dr. Bernard Okoe Boye said.

He however could not give timelines.

According to him, “it will be difficult to speak and state the specific date because, with this Africa platform that we are using and the direct Russia -Government engagement people are talking about, they tell us that it will take six or 12 months before the vaccines will come and remember in a year, a lot can happen.”

Ghana took delivery of 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines from the COVAX facility in addition to  50,000 AstraZeneca vaccines from the Indian government and 165,000 from MTN for its mass vaccination program.

The country has since been struggling to get more vaccines to immunize its 20 million target of the population.

It has however emerged that the government is using the services of middlemen to procure Sputnik-V vaccines from Russia at a higher cost of US$ 19 per dose, other than the original factory price of US$ 10.

The move has not gone down well with some stakeholders including the Minority in Parliament, who have called for an abrogation of the procurement deal.

But the former Deputy Health Minister says the government cannot simply be faulted given the situation regarding the supply of COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

“If we were a lazy government, we would just go to sleep and wait for COVAX to say we should come for the vaccines as they did with 650,000 doses.”

“As we speak, COVAX can’t tell us when we will get the next consignment. There are severe supply constraints globally, because of what happened to Serum Institute, the biggest manufacturing plant in India”, Dr. Okoe-Boye maintained.

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