Business community secures vaccines

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By Neo Kolane

A grouping of local business people that calls itself Sesiu Sa Lets’oele Beta Poho says it has sourced available AstraZeneca vaccines (AZD1222) through AstraZeneca – Alibor Investment to augment the government of Lesotho’s inoculation programme.

The cluster’s chairman, Sam Matekane, says they have also provisionally secured Moderna subject to World Health Organization approval and the subsequent lifting of US manufactured vaccines embargo.

“Sesiu’s initial order quantity will be 200,000 doses which will be delivered immediately subject to the sought authorization by government of Lesotho.

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“Your continued donations to the fund are appreciated and we urge every countryman play their role in saving lives by donating any amount towards our LSL100 million target by June 2021. We are not safe until everyone is safe! Lesotho will be fully vaccinated by end of 2021!”

This comes after the non-profit organisation fund, made up of local corporates and businesses, confirmed that 11 companies had so far pledged a total of M25 551 000 towards procurement and distribution of vaccines for all Basotho.

The organisation said they would complete the order of the vaccine this week, and the first shipment of the Sputnik 5 vaccine from Russia would arrive in May.

Matekane said the organisation is mandated to augment and expedite the government of Lesotho’s Covid19 vaccine response plan.

He said participation in the pledge to fund is open to every Mosotho who wishes to pledge towards vaccinating the entire public. He said every cent counts and as the fund, they take any amount of donations towards the purchasing of Covid-19 vaccines.

“We, the board and trustees to the fund are drawing close to our first order of 100 000 doses to be completed by the end of the week. Our choice of vaccine is dependent on the efficacy data, number of doses and global supplies. As it stands, the global political climate in the United States, United Kingdom and European Union have led to a restriction in global access.

“We are as such expected to receive our initial order of vaccines 60 days after a purchase order has been completed. We, therefore, plan to have our first consignment by the end of May 2021, subsequently receiving 100 000 doses every month until the end of the year.

“We wanted to purchase the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it is the most trusted one, but we were unable to do so hence we settled for Sputnik 5 vaccine. There are other local companies that have promised to contribute more vaccine doses.”

Matekane revealed that they are working hand in hand with the ministry of health and, when the vaccine gets here, the ministry will be left to handle everything, including the distribution of the vaccine.

“We would not be able to do anything without the ministry of health, so that is why we are aligning ourselves with the ministry of health so that we get everything right as they are the ones who know more about vaccines,” he said.

Meanwhile, health minister Semano Sekatle last week announced that Lesotho is expecting 1,156,806 doses of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine from the African Union (AU), to broaden the number of vaccinations in the country.

Lesotho received 36, 000 vaccines as part of an initial tranche of deliveries of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine licensed to the Serum Institute of India.

Speaking in parliament, Sekatle revealed that the government of Lesotho has paid a deposit of 15 percent (M25 million) for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Sekatle added that unlike Astrazeneca which is a two-dose vaccine, the Johnson and Johnson shot is only administered one. 

Sekatle added that Lesotho is also expecting a further 946,253 doses from COVAX facility courtesy of Astrazeneca and Johnson & Johnson.