Procurement of COVID-19 vaccine by private sector will lead to corruption: TIP

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Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) has raised question on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines by the private sector for commercial sale in Pakistan.

In a letter TL2021/03/22/1A to Prime Minister, TIP head said that across the globe, governments are procuring vaccines and administering to the citizens for free, as it is state’s responsibility. It may happen that at this inflated cost the government may also procure vaccine.

Similarly, it may also be pointed out that Pakistan is one of the first countries to allow the private sector to import and sell COVID-19 vaccines, and will provide a window of corruption as there are possibilities some of the govts vaccine may be sold to that private hospital.

Transparency International Pakistan refers to the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine, or Sputnik V, comprising 50,000 doses, by the private sector in Pakistan. It is reported that the federal cabinet has fixed the maximum sale price of Suptnik V Russian vaccine at Rs. 8, 449 for two doses and China’s Conividecia at Rs. 4,225 per injection.

The letter further reads, “The global price set for Sputnik V vaccine is $10 per dose. This means that internationally the two doses of Sputnik V are available at $20 (Annex-A). However, the approved price for its commercial sale in Pakistan in 160% higher than the international price. It may also be pointed out that in India, a single dose of Gamalya Centre/Sputnik V vaccine cost less than INR 734 (Annex-B). With this rate, taking into consideration the currency value difference, a single dose of Sputnik V vaccine should cost approx. Rs. 1500 in Pakistan. This anomaly of vaccine cost at more than 150% higher than the international market price is another serious issue of overcharging”.

To ensure that the access to COVID-19 vaccine is fair, transparent and equitable, Transparency International has called upon all the governments to disclose COVID-19 vaccine related information pertaining to 1- Which vaccines has your government acquired? 2- How many doses of each vaccine have been secured? 3-When will the vaccines be delivered to everyone in your country? 4-When will you be vaccinated and which one will you get? 5- How much is your government paying for a dose of each vaccine. 6-Does your government have a single website with all information about COVID-19 vaccines, including timelines, coverage, financial resources and contracts?

In the end of the letter TI Pakistan requested the Prime Minister to review the policy of  allowing private import of Vaccine, to cancel it altogether, and consider the request to issue directives for the TI recommendations for the disclosure of above critical information  about COVID-19 vaccines.