Zimbabwe Blows ZW$12 Billion To Pay For J&J COVID-19 Vaccines That Were Never Used

DESPITE failing to roll-out the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 Vaccines citing cold-chain  issues, the Zimbabwean government reportedly paid an amount to the tune of ZW$12 Billion  for the J&J doses in 2021. With the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) exchange rate of December 2020 stating US$1 to ZWL$82, this would amount to about US$147 million.

By Kudakwashe Pembere

The COVID-19 vaccination drive in Zimbabwe commenced in February 2021 to contain the disease. However, Dr Agnes Mahomva who was the COVID-19 Coordinator in the Office of the President and Cabinet then, highlighted that cold chain and logistical issues were hindering Zimbabwe’s plans to deploy and administer the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. 

She also indicated that Zimbabwe had earlier  encountered capacity challenges during their rollout of the Russian manufactured Sputnik-V vaccine, which is a viral vector vaccine just like the Johnson & Johnson jab.

Despite the issues raised, the Zimbabwean government paid a total of ZWL$11 514 803 599 according to the latest Auditor General Report,  to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturers of the J&J vaccine for the procurement of J&J vaccines. According to the report, Zimbabwe was supposed to get over 16.2 million doses of the J&J vaccine which is a single dose. Of the 16.2 million, 750 000 were not delivered.

Despite the Medicines Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (MCAZ) approving the emergency use of J&J in July 2021, data from COVID-19 Situation Reports indicate that only Sinopharm, SINOVAC, Sputnik it was not used as Government preferred the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines.

The Ministry procured 16 950 000 doses of COVID19 Janssen vaccines and paid the total invoice amount of ZWL$11 514 803 599 during the year.

“My audit examination of invoices at Central Vaccines Stores (CVS) on April 28, 2022 revealed that out of the total doses paid for, the supplier delivered 16 200 000 doses leaving out a balance of 750 000 doses of the vaccine worth ZWL$633 909 111. The Ministry did not provide explanations for the delay in delivery of the outstanding vaccines,” said Mrs Rheah Kjinga, the Acting Auditor General said in the report.

“Government may lose money if vaccines paid for in advance are not delivered.”

Zimbabwe had also approved use of the Covaxin vaccine  from India and Sputnik V from Russia. However, recipients of the vaccine were later told to restart the whole vaccination process following India’s failure to deliver the remaining doses due challenges linked to the DELTA variant.

 

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