It is extremely difficult to procure vaccines directly from manufacturers – Ayorkor Botchwey
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister.
• Foreign Minister has said having money does not guarantee you direct access to manufacturers
• She named that challenge as the reason Ghana used middlemen to procure Sputnik V
• VG report has revealed that Ghana bought vaccines at a price higher than the market price
Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has said justified why government used middlemen to procure the Sputnik V Vaccine.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Monday, June 14, the foreign affairs minister said 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.
The foreign minister added that having enough does not guarantee a country direct access to procure vaccines from the source.
“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.
She also indicated that Ghana has been working around the clock to make sure that it procures vaccines for the country.
“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.
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 on 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”.