Sputnik V: All avenues were closed, we had to use a middleman – Ayorkor Botchway

It has been difficult for almost every country to get vaccines to inoculate its citizens against the dreaded coronavirus pandemic, Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway has said.

She said even countries with the money readily available find it difficult to access the vaccines directly from the manufacturers.

She said at a press conference in Accra on Monday June 14 that it has not been easy to get the vaccines directly from the manufacturers.

“It has not been easy at all. Not just for Ghana, but for any of our country and not just for Africa but also for other countries around the world.

“Whether we were involved. Yes we were involved and I can assure you that it is difficult to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers,” she said.

“It is difficult, extremely so even if you have money to procure vaccines from the source. It is almost impossible and so we made contact and we still continue to pursue getting the vaccines. It has not been easy.

“Whether we were involved?  Yes from the beginning  we were involved but I can assure you  that it is difficult to procure  vaccines directly  from manufacturers  but whatever decision government  takes, the responsibility  is all of us. It is a collective responsibility and it is a collective decision that was taken. Government will only take that decision if all avenues are closed to it.”

Ghana has been cited in an investigative report in a Norwegian newspaper Vergens Gang for agreeing to procure the Sputnik V vaccines from a businessman at a unit price of $19 instead of $10.

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The Ministry of Health has justified the purchase of Sputnik V vaccines at almost double the factory price, emphasising the negotiations were held at a time of scarcity of the products across the globe.

But a statement issued by the Ministry of Health on Wednesday, June 9 said: “We were torn between accepting the price to enable us have access to the vaccine or facing the situation of the seller withdrawing from the negotiations, to the extent that the 15,000 doses that had been shipped to Ghana were going to be rerouted to other countries.”

 The statement signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, noted that the government was unable to obtain direct supplies of the vaccines from the Russian government and so had to resort to one Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the supplies.

According to the Ministry, $10 was the ex-factory price but the Emirati offered to sell the vaccines at $25 per dose.

This was slashed by $6 after negotiations, according to the statement.

This is the result of the cost build-up to the ex-factory price of US$10 per dose, taking into account land transportation, shipment, insurance, handling and special storage charges, as explained by the seller.

“These are the factors which led us to agree the final price of US$19 per dose,” the Ministry stressed.

It has assured Ghanaians that “it will endeavour to secure vaccines for the Ghanaian people, despite global shortages and cognisant of price and legal considerations”.

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By Laud Nartey|3news.com|Ghana