MBABANE: Senator Lizzie Nkosi, the Minister of Health is now struggling to procure the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines worth E200million from the COVAX facility after King Mswati issued a command in his speech from Throne suggesting that government must consider purchasing the now controversial 'wonder' drug from the Republic of China on Taiwan.
An independent investigation conducted by this Swaziland News uncovered that on or around 2nd February 2021, shortly after the Health Minister who was confirming previous statements made by Acting Prime Minister Senator Themba about the purchasing of the vaccines, King Mswati subsequently stopped the procurement and ordered that the money be transferred to Taiwan for the purchasing of the 'wonder' drug.
But with international pressure from the World Health Organisation(WHO), it has been disclosed that King Mswati's order might be defied by the government on the grounds that the said 'drug' was not approved by the United Nations.
Reached for comments by this Swaziland News, Lizzie Nkosi, the Minister of Health confirmed that they were still waiting for the arrival of the first batch of the COVID-19 vaccines, however, she did not disclose the specific date. The Minister added that as per the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) advice they would continue with the rolling out of the AstraZeneca vaccine since it was capable of preventing COVID-19 deaths despite that it was rejected in the neighbouring South Africa for its low efficacy.
“We are following up and still waiting, by the look of things it will not be today, but the COVAX facility has not communicated otherwise. The rollout plan continues being improved as it needs to be flexible based on availability and delivery schedules. Please note that none of the current available vaccines were created for the emerging variants, it’s most likely that there are more coming. We need to protect the Nation against severe illness and reduce COVID-19 related deaths” said the Health Minister.
On or around 2nd February 2021, the Health Minister announced that the COVID-19 vaccines would be delivered in the country at the end of February 2021.However, after the interference of the King and his Taiwan allies, it could not be ascertained whether government eventually made the E200million payments.
It has been disclosed that senior government officials within the Ministry of Health are now reluctant to publicly discuss the matter after it manifested into a power-struggle between the King and the World Health Organisation.
Dr Vusi Magagula, the Director of Health Services who had been giving updates to the media about the COVID-19 vaccines was reluctant to speak about the matter, he referred questions to the Minister.
“I am not in a position to comment on that, please contact the Minister, she is the rightful person to give updates on this matter”, said the Director of Health.
King Mswati, an absolute Monarch issued the command for the procurement of the Taiwan 'wonder drug' after disclosing that it helped him recover from COVID-19, Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations and is regarded as a province of the People's Republic of China under UN Resolution 2758 of 1971 that endorsed a one China principle.
Reached for comments, Bheki Mamba, the President of the Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) said the delay in the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines was not only affecting the health of the Nation but also the economy.
“The delay is now affecting the whole country in terms of business and the economy. South Africa is now well ahead of us in terms of vaccinating the whole population and they are controlling the whole of the Southern African economy, if we keep on lagging behind on the vaccination, our trade with South Africa will be affected" said the SWADNU President.
Heath Minister Lizzie Nkosi