On 27th March, 2021,the World Health Organization (WHO) was emphatic that, it was seriously concerned about the potential criminal exploitation of the huge unmet global demand for Covid-19 vaccines and went ahead to warn all National Health Ministries, including Ghana's Ministry of Health against counterfeit vaccines and urged people to therefore stick to government-run vaccination programs.
According to WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, several ministries of health, national regulatory authorities and public procurement organizations across the world had received suspicious offers to supply Covid-19 vaccines,
The WHO indicated that, it is "aware of vaccines being diverted and reintroduced into the supply chain, with no guarantee that cold chain has been maintained," he said, adding that counterfeit vaccines have been sold on the internet, primarily on the dark web. There have also been reports of "criminal groups" reusing empty vaccine vials.
Also on Friday, the WHO issued an alert for a counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine identified as BNT162b2, which was detected in Mexico in February, as this product was supplied and administered to patients outside authorized vaccination programs, may still be in circulation in the region and continue to be offered to patients outside authorized vaccination programs, the WHO had said.
"Falsified Covid-19 vaccines pose a serious risk to global public health and place an additional burden on vulnerable populations and health systems. It is important to identify and remove these from circulation," the WHO warned in a statement and hence, Tedros urged the public/governments not to buy vaccines outside either the government-run vaccination programmes or outside the manufacturers authorized dealers, and to report any suspicious sale of vaccines to the national authorities, who will report it to the WHO.
However, fast forward to the Minister of Health's appearance before the Parliamentary Committee of Enquiry, our Minister of Health, has asserted that, he was not aware of this and hence, he choice not to deal with the Russian Government directly or the manufacturer, as he relied on the Saudi Arabian middle man.
In the video sighted here at Facebook (VIDEO), where he asserts that, he knew he had to receive Parliamentary approval, he however insisted that, due to the seriousness of his need for the vaccines, he had to go about this million dollar deal, without it.
“Those were not normal times and I was seriously in a situation that didn’t make me think properly, the way you think that now I will actually abreast myself with the situation”, he told the committee.
In answering to a question, as to whether he was aware of the calls by the WHO, not to deal with agents but rather directly with manufactures or through their governments, he was emphatic that, he was not aware of such a directive.
The Health Minister, will be back to the committee, as members seek to now find out as well, aside the signing of the contract outside Parliament's approval, but also, the potential procurement of counterfeit drugs and its possible means of proving to be fatal risk, for the ordinary Ghanaians, as this mode of purchase, was not one recommended by the World Health Organization, who is spearheading the fight against this pandemic.