Three months ago, the Ministry of Health announced that it was seeking to terminate the contract with the Covax mechanism for non-compliance in the provision of doses against Covid-19.
This agreement was signed between Paraguay and the PAHO/WHO system during the administration of the former Minister of Health, Julio Mazzoleni. At the height of the pandemic, this “facilitating” instrument provided some batches, although later the vaccines stopped arriving, despite the need.
As a result of the breach of the agreement signed with Covax, Public Health requested the remission of the agreement with the system and the return of US$ 5,670,990. The PAHO/WHO instrument had committed to sending 4,279,800 doses for the deposit of 6,847,680 dollars.
However, Covax delivered only 1,093,200 biologicals, explained Gustavo Irala, general director of Legal Counsel. This number includes donations received through the mechanism.
“At the end of May, the Minister of Health had a meeting with a Covax representative in Geneva, when the assembly of the World Health Organization was taking place. We had agreed that they would give us an answer about the Ministry of Health’s proposal to rescind this agreement and to obtain the return of the funds that are available, but have not yet been used. That answer is what we don’t have yet,” he noted.
Given the lack of responses, the Minister of Health, Julio Borba, determined that Paraguay send the request for an “urgent” meeting with representatives of the mechanism.
“This is an opportunity to urge a response to the Covax mechanism. We are awaiting the date of this meeting to exhort that response, ”he explained.
Covax offered Paraguay to send the remaining doses of the agreement to avoid terminating the contract.
“The pending amount of doses is 3,186,600, which the mechanism is in a position to deliver to Paraguay, but we no longer have that interest in receiving because they had not been delivered at the time. Back then, the pandemic was at its peak,” he recalled.
In this sense, Irala stressed that the initial payment for Covax was 6,847,680 dollars. Receiving only 1,093,200 biologicals, Paraguay still has 5,670,990 dollars as funds available with the mechanism, which it is now requesting as a refund for 3,186,600 vaccines that never arrived.
A “QUASI SCAM”
Dr. Lilio Irala, representative of the medical union, recalled that Covax leaves the valuable lesson that “you don’t have to put all your eggs in one basket.”
“The Covax mechanism has shown total ineffectiveness and inefficiency and became a quasi-scam. Many of the resources were allocated to this mechanism without, to date, responding to our needs. We were prisoners of a kind of begging. We had to request the donation of biologicals to allies”, he stated.
In this sense, he emphasized the inefficiency of the Government, which did not foresee “all scenarios” to buy vaccines. “It was obvious that we had to have other alternatives,” he concluded.