WHO cautions Ghana, other countries against overpriced COVID-19 vaccines

The Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products at the World Health Organization (WHO), Mariangela Batista Galvao Simao, has said her organization has received news of overpriced vaccines in some countries.

She has asked countries to deal with the manufacturers of the vaccines in order to purchase them at the right price.

“We have received concerns from countries regarding other vaccines selling at a much higher price than what is being actually sold by the manufacturers.  Two things to be aware off; First of all, the vast majority of manufacturers are selling only to public entities.

“We have advised countries to go to the manufacturer to make sure that the intermediaries is legal.”

This comes after Ghana has been cited by Norwegian tabloid Verdens Gang in an investigative report for purchasing Sputnik V vaccines from the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) through some businessmen at an overpriced unit cost of $19 instead of $10.

The Ministry of Health has assured Ghanaians that it will endeavour to secure vaccines based on national need and according to procurement processes.

In a statement dated Wednesday, June 9, the Ministry of Health said the several efforts to get the vaccines from the Russian government and some individuals came to naught and it had to rather respond to an offer from the private office of one Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the supply of 3.4 million doses at a unit cost of $19.

“It should be noted that the US$10 price per dose, which is being proposed as the correct price, is the ex-factory price, which is only obtained from Government to Government arrangements,” the statement signed by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Kwabena Boadu Oku-Afari, said.

“The Government of Ghana was unable to obtain direct supplies from the Russian Government as stated earlier, hence the resort to the market.”

It explained that the initial price of $25 had to be negotiated downwards to $19 through efforts of the government.

“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.

The Ministry explained that when the engagements with the Russian authorities such as the Russian Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the CEOs of the RDIF and Limited Liability Company ‘Human Vaccine’ and even the Deputy Ambassador of Russia in Ghana yielded no results, the offer from Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum was responded to on Tuesday, March 9, a few days to exactly a year when the coronavirus disease struck the country.

“It should be noted that at the time of negotiations, as is the case now, there was scarcity or non-availability of the vaccines on the market.”

So far, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has approved the use of three vaccines in Ghana – AstraZeneca, Sputnik V and quite recently Johnson & Johnson.

By the agreement with Sheikh Dalmook Al Maktoum, who delivered 15,000 doses while in Accra as assurances to supply the 300,000 Ghana ordered at a cost of $5.7 million, the country can opt out if supply conditions are not met.

So far, the supply is yet to be delivered, according to the Ministry’s statement.

Ghana began vaccinating its population against Covid-19 in March with a goal to vaccinate about 20 million of the population by close of this year.

Source3news.com

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