By MAIMBO MWEEMBA
Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) leader Sean Tembo has commended majority of Zambians for embracing the Covid-19 vaccine.
Mr Tembo says it means that the second batch of about 228,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that the country recently received as a donation from the COVAX program of the World Health Organization (WHO) is unlikely to be enough, given the high demand.
“We wish to call upon President Edgar Lungu and his Government to immediately procure additional doses of the vaccine from the world market. As a nation, it is not sustainable for us to continue relying solely on donated vaccines from the World Health Organization. We need to utilize our FOREX reserves to procure Covid-19 vaccines from the world market,” he said.
Mr Tembo said that spending the country’s FOREX reserves on procuring Covid-19 vaccines is not an expense but an investment.
He added that there is no more debate that with adequate levels of Covid-19 vaccination among the people, the country can easily revert to normalcy.
Mr Tembo said that the economic cost of Covid-19 in Zambia far outweighs the cost of an intensive vaccination program.
“For instance, the current world market price of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is about US$6 per dose, which means to vaccinate 10 million Zambians and achieve herd-immunity, with two doses per person; we only need approximately US$120 million. Even the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is currently the most expensive Covid-19 vaccine on the world market, only costs about US$19 per dose,” he said.
Mr Tembo says Government has no justification for continuing to shy away from procuring doses of Covid-19 vaccines from the world market.
He says the cost of treating a seriously ill Covid-19 patient far outweighs the cost of vaccinating an individual against Covid-19.
“It does not make economic sense for Government to shy away from spending US$12 to buy two doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine or spend US$38 to buy two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on the world market, only to spend US$13,000 treating a single seriously ill Covid-19 patients, It is on this basis that we call on President Lungu and his Government to do the right thing in this fight against Covid-19,” he said.