Strict guidelines issued for private COVID-19 vaccine procurement

African nations face logistical trouble in buying and distributing COVID-19 materials (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Private companies can now import COVID-19 vaccines for staff and for donations, but all procurement will be done through government, according to new guidelines just issued by Cabinet.

In a statement on Tuesday, government laid out the procedures that companies will have to follow to buy vaccines.

Zimbabwe has now issued emergency use authorisation for four vaccines; Sinopharm and Sinovac, manufactured in China, Russia’s Sputnik V and COVAXIN, the Indian vaccine. Companies that wish to order vaccines can, for now, only select from these four.

“All those intending to procure vaccines for their employees must procure only registered vaccines in Zimbabwe,” Cabinet said.

Companies cannot buy vaccines directly, but will have to pay through a special fund managed by the Ministry of Finance.

“Organisations interested in procuring COVID-19 vaccines for their workforce will deposit their funds into the National Vaccine Procurement Fund after approval by the Ministry of Health and Child Care,” said Cabinet. “The National Vaccine Procurement Fund will procure on behalf of the organisations, guided by the national procurement guidelines.”

“All COVID-19 approved vaccines will be procured through the National Vaccine Procurement Fund managed by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development. Organisations, individuals and any partners wishing to donate towards vaccine procurement will do so to the President through the Fund,” Cabinet said, adding that all donations would be disclosed publicly.

Once privately-procured vaccines have arrived, they will be secured at the Ministry of Health’s storage facilities.

“To ensure safety and efficacy, vaccines shall be kept at the Central vaccines Stores under the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the National Cold Chain guidelines shall apply.”

Distribution and security will be provided only by government. “All vaccines administered at private institutions will be transported by Ministry of Health and Child Care medical staff under guard by the Zimbabwe Republic Police.”

The Ministry of Health alone will administer those vaccines. “Only trained and registered health professionals shall be authorised to administer vaccines, and only the Ministry of Health and Child Care shall be responsible for issuing all COVID-19 vaccination certificates.”

In February, MPs appealed to government to allow private companies to purchase vaccines on their own, with government only playing a “regulatory role”.

[ALSO READ: MPs, Govt have debated allowing private COVID-19 vaccine imports. Here’s what they said]

Deputy Health Minister John Mangwiro, responding, said private companies, among them medical aid firms such as Cimas, would be allowed to pay for vaccines, but only through government. He also said all vaccines would be free.

As at Tuesday, 35 761 people had been vaccinated.