Mbabane: Minister of Health Lizzie Nkosi says the Kirsh Foundation has also committed E200 million ($15.8 million) which is now set aside to purchase the Moderna vaccine with negotiations currently at an advanced stage and delivery expected during third quarter and the fourth quarter of 2021.
Moderna is another vaccine candidate that was first authorized for use in Canada on December 23, 2020, in Israel on January 5, 2021, in the European Union on January 6, 2021, in the United Kingdom on January 8 2021, and in Singapore on February 3 2021.
During a press conference held at the cabinet offices on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister said with additional funding that came from the Government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) which stands at $1.5 million, the country have more than enough money for our needs, but the challenge remains access to vaccines. The Government continues to engage with manufacturers for access to COVID-19 vaccines.
She said the E200 million that was set aside by the Government in December for procurement of COVID-19 vaccines has not been utilised.
She said the only challenge faced by the government which hinders her from getting more vaccines was the challenge in getting access to the vaccines. She said that was not only a challenge faced by Eswatini alone but most countries do have challenge in accessing vaccines.
She said it is deliberately misleading to assume that Government is reliant on donations.
The Minister said the nation will continue to receive its COVID-19 vaccines from the COVAX facility as scheduled.
“Plans by the Ministry of Health for securing the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccines by May 2021 & other candidates to cover the eligible population are still on track,” said the Minister.
The COVAX Facility continues to secure and distribute other COVID-19 vaccine candidates to the COVAX AMC countries and these vaccine doses are not affected as they are not manufactured in the Republic of India.
Nkosi said Eswatini expects to receive 500 000 doses of the Oxford University/AstraZeneca Vaccine as a donation from Oxford University/AstraZeneca. This consignment is expected to come from Europe and not India and is expected in the country by May 2021.
“We have not received any communication from COVAX to inform of a delay for the planned May 2021 delivery of the AstraZeneca Vaccine.”
She added that the COVAX facility is not the only avenue Eswatini is pursuing to secure COVID-19 vaccines. It is important to note that African countries can procure an equivalent of 15% of their population through the AU facility. Therefore, between the COVAX and AU facilities, Eswatini can access vaccines to cover only 35% of the population; the rest is to be procured directly from manufacturers.
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