While Covid-19 positive infections continue to spiral out of control, it remains unclear as to when the vaccine programme would be rolled out in the country.
This was revealed by the Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force; Professor Mosepele Mosepele this week, saying he could not state the date when the vaccine would be made available to the public.
Mosepele was briefing members of Ntlo ya Dikgosi on Wednesday morning in Gaborone who wanted to know from the Task Force when the country would have access to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Explaining to the Chiefs the process of registering for the vaccine, Mosepele said Botswana had initially registered for the COVAX programme.
“Many countries had come together to form an allianceso that they can negotiate for a lower price to buy in bulk, but we did not stop there because we have learned a lot in testing and have also been engaging manufactures,” said Mosepele.
However Mosepele said the greatest challenge is that wealthy countries have long placed vaccine orders, as they are the same countries that have funded the research and development of the vaccine.
“The agreement then is, if I give you the money to develop the vaccine, I become the first to get 200 million doses, which is the problem that we have because we didn’t have the funds for the development of the vaccine,” Mosepele explained.
Botswana is not the only country in the continent yet to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, as the whole continent is yet to get it.
Recent reports suggest that it may take weeks if not months before the continent can get its first doses of the vaccine.
It is believed hoarding by wealthy countries, funding shortfalls, as well as regulations, has slowed the process of rolling out the vaccine in the African continent.
Various vaccines have been developed across the world, however, under the COVAX programme, only vaccines approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) can be procured, with Pfizer said to be the only vaccine approved by the Organization for emergency use.
President Masisi has recently said in his meetings with frontline workers that the government has started very active discussions to mobilize resources to find a vaccine, saying the frontline workers would be among the first to get it once its available.