The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday warned countries from fallen prey to private vaccine merchants who have started a cartel to overprice the new COVID-19 vaccines.
The WHO cautioned sovereign countries should buy vaccines certified by the WHO from the sources and not from intermediaries.
This warning came days before the Ghanaians Ministry of Health was exposed for handing contracts to questionable intermediary companies to buy the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
One of the Ghanaian intermediaries Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), cooked the contract from his private office, while the second intermediary for the Sputnik vaccine is a local company called SL Global Ghana Limited.
Both companies doubled the Russian vaccine price from US$ 10 to US$ 19 and US$ 26 per dose for Ghana and their contracts signed between March and April 2021 will ensure they pocket some US$ 110 million (GHC 640 million) at the expense of Ghanaians taxpayers.
The two were clandestinely engaged by the MoH to supply 8.4 million doses of the vaccines which the government could have accessed directly from Russia and save the country the amount creamed off by the intermediaries.
“We have received concerns regarding other vaccines … with intermediates selling it (one vaccine) at a much higher price than what has been actually sold by the manufacturers,” said Mariangela Batista Galvao Simao, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines and Health Products, during a press conference.
According to Chinese news agency Xinhua, the issue of the role of intermediates for buying vaccines was raised recently as a middleman, located in the United Arab Emirates, was caught selling Sputnik vaccines to Ghana and Pakistan at double the original price.
Simao said that countries should either buy directly from the manufacturer or “contact the manufacturer to make sure that the intermediate is legal.”
“There is a lot of substandard and falsified COVID products being commercialized out there, so you need to know the provenance,” she added.
Simao also said that it was important to vaccinate people with products “certified” by the WHO.
“The advice of the WHO is that the countries use vaccines that have received emergency listing,” she said, referring to the Emergency Use Listing used by the organization to approve new vaccines