More controversy keeps coming up regarding government’s procurement of Russia’s Sputnik V for Covid-19 vaccination in the country.
In a document sighted by the media, the Health Ministry has contracted another supplier, S. L. Global Limited to purchase five million doses of the drug at $26 per dose.
Digging further into the 20-page document, the Ghanaian owned company serving as the intermediate is to deliver the vaccines in batches; one million doses each month until the fifth month when the country would have had the enough doses for inoculation.
Among other things, the agreement was that the purchase will not include transportation, storage and other charges; thus, the cost is likely to rise.
“None of the seller or any of its connected persons shall be subjected to any liability under this agreement or otherwise for any lose suffered by the buyer or any person whatsoever including patients, resulting to the use of the product,” part of the agreement read.
Thus, in a letter dated March 16, 2021, the Health Ministry beseeched the Finance Ministry to support it raise $130 million to be used to pay for Covid-19 vaccines, which were being procured through some third parties.
This comes barely a week hours after an investigation by a Norwegian newspaper uncovered that government is buying the Sputnik V vaccine for $19 per dose from the businessmen instead of $10.
The report revealed that government has signed a contract for the purchase of the Sputnik V vaccine with an Emirati official who it said was involved in the controversial Ameri power deal and a Norwegian citizen charged with money laundering in Norway.
Publishing its findings on www.vg.no, VG further revealed that government has signed the purchase contract for 3.4 million doses of the vaccine after it received an initial 16,000 doses from two business men on March 3, 2021.
“It is March 3, and the moment of truth for Minister of Health, Kwaku Agyeman-Manu (65). A flight from the Emirates is taxiing to the terminal in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where the Minister of Health is waiting. Out step two men: One is a Sheikh and second cousin of the ruler of Dubai. The other has been on the run from Norwegian police for years.
“Boxes containing a total of 16,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V are unloaded from the plane and placed in front of the Minister of Health. Six days later, the Ministry of Health in Ghana signs an agreement with the Sheik. They announce that they have reached an agreement regarding the purchase of 3.4 million vaccine doses. No price is publicly disclosed,” parts of the report read.
According to the publication, when the Ministry of Health was contacted to respond to the story, “a group of bureaucrats” told the newspaper that their job was to pay at the end of the day after the contract had been signed.
The Ministry of Finance in response to the story said the vaccines were purchased to “protect” people.
The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, when asked why he purchased the vaccine for $19 per dose, was quoted as saying: “I don’t know. You know, you are confronted with “the good guys” from the West not giving you any assurances of supply [of vaccines], and you have 30 million people and are to save lives.
“You know, it’s easy to sit somewhere else and say: Why are you doing this? But you need to make sure you protect your people. You manage that as well as you can. This is all a contrived and manufactured crisis, because clearly there are enough [vaccines] to go around if only there was equity and justice in what we are doing.”
Following this reportage, the Minority in Parliament has called for a thorough investigation into the matter indicating that the pricing of the product is a rip off to the country.
But government in statement said it has rather successfully negotiated downwards the price of the Sputnik V vaccine from a higher price.
According to the Health Ministry, the $19 price is as result of government’s direct negotiation with a businessman rather than seeking to obtain the vaccines on a government to government basis which is cheaper yet difficult to push through.
Also, the Chairman of Parliament’s Health Committee, Dr Nana Ayew Afriyie dispelled claims that government has been swindled in the deal to procure the Sputnik-V Covid-19 vaccine.
He argued that producers of the vaccine do not deal directly with government, as such, middle men are being used causing an increase in the original price of $10 per dose which is the factory price.
With this in mind, Dr Afriyie argued that concerns being raised about the ‘abnormal’ price is misplaced since government is doing its best to acquire the newly developed vaccine that will save the country and the citizens from the deadly pandemic.
“We have not been swindled as a State. Even though we are in a desperate state to get vaccines, the policy of government which is a very good one is to get business persons to go into the Sputnik V space.
“Yes, the factory price is US$ 10, but when you get expatriates, and it gets out of the factory, there are a lot of factors that come in, including the profit, commission and freight to Ghana. So you don’t expect a vaccine that costs US$ 10 at the factory to be the same price when it arrives in Ghana, especially when a middleman is getting it,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has warned government against engaging suspicious middlemen in its desperate bid to secure vaccines.
“We have received similar concerns regarding other vaccines with intermediates selling it at a much higher price than what the manufacturers are selling it. There is a lot of substandard and falsified Covid-19 products being commercialized out there. So contact the manufacturers to make sure that the intermediate is legal,” the WHO representative said.