Mbabane: The minister of health Lizzie Nkosi has stated that the E200 million that was set aside by the government in early January for purchasing COVID-19 vaccines was still safe and available.
The minister said this through a press statement released on Thursday.
“As previously shared that government has set aside E200 million to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, Government has not made a payment from these funds and no deliveries have been made yet,” reads the statement.
The minister stated that Eswatini like any other African countries including the World Health Organisation (WHO) has struggled to gain access to purchase vaccines.
Currently, about 1.5 percent of the African population has been vaccinated. The minister said they have made commitments to vaccine manufacturers and payments will be made upon each delivery.
Nkosi also highlighted that the COVAX facility deliveries have enabled Eswatini and many other African countries to roll out vaccination programs.
The minister stated that as early as January the country placed orders for vaccines that can only be fulfilled towards the end of the year due to global supply not meeting demand and each country prioritizing its population limiting the export of vaccines from manufacturing companies.
Nkosi further highlighted that it was not an ideal position of government to rely on donations to protect its population, but the truth is that we, like many other African countries, await for access to purchase vaccines.
The minister on behalf of the government of Eswatini thanked the government of the United States of America (USA) for their donation through the COVAX facility, for Johnson and Johnson doses, AstraZeneca, and Oxford University for the donation of 500 000 doses for research purposes, the government of the Republic of India for the donation of 20 000 AstraZeneca Covishied doses and COVAX facility for the provision of doses that enabled the country to kick start the vaccination program.
With a population of about 1,3 million people in Eswatini, as of July 22, 2021, the country has 38 326 people who have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. About 27 341 people have received their first and second dose of the vaccine.