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Health News Thu, 17 Jun 2021

Our only option to procure Sputnik V was via middlemen - Health Minister

Minister of Health Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, has explained the reasons for the country opting for the Russian Sputnik V vaccines by saying at the time the Food and Drugs Authority(FDA) had only approved two vaccines, the AstraZeneca and the Sputnik V in the country.

He said AstraZeneca had closed its gates and was not shipping any vaccines from India hence, the only option was to go for the Sputnik V vaccines from Russia.

Mr Agyeman-Manu pointed out that his outfit tried to do a bilateral engagement with the Russians but yielded no results in the process. He said they had to write to the Health and Foreign Ministers of Russia and even the Trade Minister in order to procure the Sputnik V directly from the source but to no avail in terms of responses.

He made this pronouncement in a press briefing at the auspices of the Ministry of Information on Wednesday, June 16.

“When we got the announcement that we are not going to get vaccines as has been scheduled from India through the COVAX window, we needed to look at how we were going to get vaccines to protect our people. At the time FDA had approved only two vaccines AstraZeneca and Sputnik. AstraZeneca had closed its borders and there was no way any vaccine was going to be shipped from India so the only option to engage was the Sputnik.

"Our first effort was to try to do bilateral engagement but it yielded no significant results. We had to write to the Foreign Minister of Russia, we wrote to the Health Minister of Russia, we wrote to the Trade Minister of Russia, trying to see how best they can facilitate us to do bilateral engagements so we could buy Sputnik from the source but it didn’t yield any responses or significant results”, he pointed out.

He added “to the extent that we even invited the Deputy Ambassador of Russia for his engagement and he couldn’t facilitate our move. We, therefore, had no other option than to engage middlemen to see how best we can get the vaccines. In the process, we signed two agreements, one that was going to sell vaccines to us for $19, the other one was $18.5 and not $26 that has been reported in the media. These agreements that we signed were done with the view that it will only become operational after we have placed orders and we have issued letters of credit, so if we haven’t done these the agreements are going to be sitting down redundant. So we needed to operationalize with two activities, the first one, the $19 we had a deliberate schedule that will span the 3.4 million committed quantities to be delivered in three months to July.

“The first tranche was 300,000 that we issued an LC for, the LC delayed and after its confirmation and after three weeks that we started the LC go, the supplier only told us that he had run out of stocks and that we should give them two weeks, they were expecting deliveries from Russia. Later they came to tell us that they can only deliver in July so when we delayed a little bit they had sold their stocks. So they were selling to us at $19, I don’t know how much they sold to other countries, such that our stocks ran out before our LC got ready. This has become a massive debate in this country but government is committed that no matter what we will find the vaccines to try to protect our population”.
Source: 3news.com
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