Maputo — The Mozambican Health Ministry on Monday announced that, by the end of May, Mozambique hopes to receive a further 2.6 million doses of vaccine against the Covid-19 respiratory disease.
Speaking at a Maputo press conference, the Deputy National Director of Public Health, Benigna Matsinhe, added that the government expects to receive further consignments of vaccine later in the year.
« In principle and if everything goes well, we have the promise of about 2.6 million doses of vaccine by the end of the year », he said. « And then gradually over the year, we will receive more, and in various consignments. First to cover 20 per cent of the population, and later we shall acquire more vaccines for the 16 million people whom we have referred to ».
The total Mozambican population is around 30 million, so 20 per cent would be six million. The figures mentioned by Matsinhe are enough for virtually total vaccination, since around half the population consists of children, who will not be vaccinated.
As for the import of vaccines by the private sector, Matsinhe said a preliminary study is under way.
« We have received requests from various private sector companies who have expressed an interest in acquiring these vaccines », she said. « We are now drawing up a memorandum ».
She added that in any acquisition of vaccines by the private sector there will be a condition that that the private companies must allocate to the government ten per cent of the vaccines to be imported
The private sector will only import vaccines, if it can make a profit out of them, and private companies have already come under severe criticism for the exorbitant sums they charge for Covid-19 testing. Most Mozambicans are in no condition to pay anything for vaccination, and it is a well-established principle in the Mozambican health service that vaccination is free of charge.
Furthermore, there is an international shortage of vaccines, since almost every country in the world is attempting to obtain vaccines for its own population, and the richest countries have been accused of hoarding vaccines.
Mozambique received its first shipment of vaccine on 24 February, consisting of 200,000 doses produced by the Chinese Sinopharm company, and donated by the Chinese government.
On 8 March, Mozambique received a further 484,000 doses. 100,000 were donated by the Indian government. These are the Covishield vaccine – which is the name given to the Astra-Zeneca vaccine when manufactured by the Serum Institute of India.
The other 384,000 doses are also the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, and came from the Covax initiative, set up by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to ensure that Covid-19 vaccines are available for low and middle income countries.