The Minority in Parliament have called on government to renege on its decision to procure the Sputnik V vaccines. According to them, they are concerned over government’s signing of a contract to procure the vaccines from “an irregular source”.
The group further revealed that, the Minister for Health had earlier promised the “ceiling price per dose of COVID- 19 vaccine would not exceed $10”.
This, they explained, was captured in the process leading to the approval of this year’s budget.
Contained in a statement signed by Kwabena Akandoh, a ranking member on the parliamentary select committee on health, he disclosed that the health minister also furnished the committee a “vaccine deployment plan that had two scenarios”.
“One was a worst-case scenario that reduced the first phase of vaccinations from vaccinating over 7 million Ghanaians to a reduced number slightly above 1.5million by middle of June 2021.
“The Minority in parliament were made to believe that government was going to demonstrate competence by working through appropriate channels using bilateral and multilateral relations with countries and their manufacturers to secure the much needed vaccines for Ghanaians”.
Additionally, Mr. Akandoh further noted that the minority were also assured of regular updates on procurement and deployment of coronavirus vaccines.
“However, since March this year, we have not received any information as to why government is behind its own scheduled plan of deployment or any notice indicating that government has now decided to employ the services of private individuals and companies to try and secure vaccines for the people of Ghana”.
Inflated prices of vaccines
According to the minority, red flags were raised on reports on the procurement of vaccines from a publication on VG.
The Norwegian news portal asserted that government had signed an agreement with a private business man from Dubai. Mr. Akandoh revealed that this was to procure Russian Sputnik vaccines by sidestepping regular channels for procurement.
“This raises a lot of questions as to the source of these vaccines, their efficacy and whether the quality control mechanisms required by the manufacturer has been duly followed to guarantee the high levels of safety expected of such vaccines.
“There are also issues about whether the supplier of the vaccine is a regular source and is authorized to purchase and resell sputnik V vaccines etc.
“We are also deeply concerned about the inflated price at which government is procuring these vaccines. A 90% markup on any product is extraordinary in any business transaction and it is highly unlikely when the manufacturer has issued a statement to the effect that the price per dose should not exceed $10 on the international market”.
Vaccine procurement, ploy to rip-off Ghanaians
Touching further on the vaccine procurement, Mr. Akandoh revealed that it is clear that Ghanaian taxpayers are being taken for granted.
“All indications surrounding this deal points to an attempt to rip-off the Ghanaian taxpayer and maximize profit for some private individuals in government. The AU bought 300million doses of Sputnik V for $9.75 per dose. Slovakia and Hungary which are much smaller countries than Ghana and in need of smaller quantities have all purchased Sputnik V vaccine for approximately $10. Why should Ghana pay more?
“Why should Ghana pay the price of 2 Sputnik V vaccines for 1? We are aware that government is making arrangements with some Ghanaian companies to purchase Sputnik V vaccines at prices well below $15. Why would government therefore opting to stay with an agreement that requires the Ghanaian taxpayer to pay $19 per dose?”
“Although there have been no regular updates with regards to vaccine procurement or deployment, evidence on the ground points to the undeniable fact that government is well behind its own scheduled vaccination deployment plan even when we consider the worst case scenario. Experts have been giving signals of grave concerns about a looming third wave and yet nothing seems to happen”.