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Private sector consortium buys Covid vaccines

LEHLOHONOLO LEBILETSA

MASERU – The local private sector community has set up an independent non-profit making fund to contribute in national response efforts, pooling finances through ‘Sesiu sa letšoele le beta poho’ (SESIU) to procure and distribute Covid vaccinations.

Officially launched on March 11, this unified private sector initiative is mandated to augment and expedite government’s COVID-19 response plan. The launch was officiated by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro and aims to ensure that each Mosotho receives the needed Covid dose at the earliest.

11 companies have so far pledged a total of M25 551 000 towards procurement and distribution of the vaccines.

Speaking at the launch held in Maseru the fund’s chairman, Sam Matekane, assured continuous working relationship with government throughout the entire process.

“Let it be known that the government, through its health ministry is playing a major role towards the success of this major initiative, we wouldn’t have come this far without the government’s go ahead. Even after the arrival of the vaccine in Lesotho, it will be welcomed by the government and will head to the Ministry of Health,” Matekane said.

“Participation to pledge to the fund is open for every Mosotho who wishes to get vaccinated or just to pledge towards vaccinating the public at large,” he explained.

“Matekane further mentioned that SESIU is open for pledges from all companies and citizens of goodwill “regardless of the amount they are putting in.”

He added that the first of their initial order of vaccines will arrive in the country 60 days from the day of purchase, with the first consignment expected by the end of May.

“We wanted to purchase the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as it is the most trusted one, but we were unable to do so hence we settled for Sputnik 5 vaccine. There are other local companies that have promised to contribute more vaccine doses.”

Phafane Nkotsi who is the CEO of Mehahlaula explained that the sole purpose of the newly formed organisation is to ensure the safety of Basotho by guaranteeing that a decent sum of dosage arrives in the country within a short period of time.

“Since our launch, we are pleased to confirm that 11 companies Alliance insurance, Standard Lesotho Bank, Letšeng Diamonds, Lesotho National Insurance Group, Nedbank, NB Holdings, LSP Construction, Pick ‘n Pay Lesotho, Thaba-Bosiu Risk Solutions, Econet Lesotho, and Specialized Insurance Company have pledged,” the consortium has said.

The board of trustees has also announced that following initial purchase Lesotho will thereafter receive receive 100 000 doses every month until the end of the year.

SESIU’s first was the much touted Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but Matekane revealed they failed to acquire the vaccine and settled for the Russian Sputnik 5 vaccine; Matekane continued that “the choice of the vaccine is dependent on efficiency data, number of dozes and global supplies.”

SESIU also announced that they are working on securing appropriate expertise for information dissemination to sensitize the nation about the vaccination processes in order to dispel common myths and misconceptions about Covid vaccines.

The sole purpose of any vaccine is to cure people and not otherwise, we stand, therefore, to comfort Basotho that this vaccine is intended to fight the Coronavirus and not to harm them.

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