Probe alleged overpriced Sputnik V vaccines – Minority

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The Ranking Member on Parliament’s Health Committee and Member of Parliament for Juaboso in the Western Region Kwabena Mintah Akandoh, has called for a bipartisan investigation into the alleged purchase of overpriced Sputnik V vaccines by the government.

He was speaking on the heels of a report by Verdens Gang, a Norwegian newspaper which disclosed that Ghana, through the Ministry of Health allegedly purchased Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines at an overpriced amount of $19 per dose instead of the $10 per dose sold on the international market through middlemen.

Mr Akandoh said “well I would want to satisfy myself as a Ranking Member and a minority group, we have to satisfy ourselves to know the truth of the matter. And so we will call for investigations and then if we are not satisfied, we will call for an independent investigation into the matter because the Minister himself is complicit in this matter, so we will call for a bipartisan investigation into this matter”.

A move, the World Health Organization(WHO) has described as a ‘catastrophic moral failure’ with the tendency to increase new COVID-19 virus mutations and will be paid for by loss of lives and livelihoods in the country.

Commenting on the matter for the Verdens Gang newspaper with Emmanuel Samani on Mid Day news on TV3, on how the deal will make some individuals richer at the expense of Ghana, reporter Markus Tobiassen said “well we don’t know the details, but it certainly would seem so considering the vaccines are sold at such a high mark. The individuals involved in the sale have refused to disclose the specifics on how much they are making from this but we have been able to confirm that it’s been sold at a higher mark than what the Russians are selling the vaccines following directives”.

Asked if it is because of the scarcity of vaccines that have rendered African countries like Ghana and others to be sold the Sputnik V vaccines at such an exorbitant price by the  businessmen, Mr Tobiassen said “yes, that’s the central point of our story and like the Finance Minister of Ghana who said it more precisely that ‘this is an artificial and contrived prices’ because there are enough vaccines to go around but there isn’t enough equity and friendliness in how they are distributed”.

Reacting to the question of how Ghana should have done the due diligence to ascertain the true price of the vaccines on the world market and how the two individuals involved are declared wanted by the European Union(EU) for fraud and related crimes, he said “there was a good question of whether or not Ghana’s government was aware of Omar Farouk’s background because they have had dealings with him previously, back in 2015 with the energy deal that was made with the company Ameri, which was the same Sheik who signed that deal.

“In terms of why it didn’t create any attention in Ghana, I think the arrival of this vaccine deal was not publicized much, there wasn’t much news on it, whereas the AstraZeneca vaccines were highly publicized. This deal has received little attention but at least I hope now there will be an increased attention to give us some more answers because there are a number of unanswered questions around this deal”.

On the question of how the newspaper came about this report, he said “we actually started with a published piece on a website in Ghana and we had alerts from my colleague who had been following Umar Farouk for a number of years. We had a lot from this article which was made by an anonymous contributor, so we were not able to use that article as any kind of documentation but that didn’t deter us from ascertaining whether Umar Farouk was involved in another big deal in Ghana”.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah||Ghana

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