AN Investigation has revealed that Lusaka Businessman Valden Findlay’s company Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment imported fake Covid-19 vaccines for supply to the Ministry of Health.
And the Zambia Medicine Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) has confirmed that 10,000 doses of the vaccine labelled Hayat-Vax SARS-COV2 were imported around July 2021, adding that Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment did not have any import permit or distribution licence for drugs.
According to sources, Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment was selected to supply the Covid-19 drugs to the Ministry of Health, but the development was thwarted before the consignment could be distributed, forcing ZAMRA to destroy them last Friday.
The consignee was Ministry of Health. What happened is that the vaccines were brought in around July, but they were kept safe. The plan was that after PF wins the August elections, then the Ministry of Health was going to buy those vaccines. If you look at the statements that the Ministry was making at those daily briefings, they were stating that government was going to buy vaccines in September, and they consistently kept saying that. Those are the vaccines they were talking about, they were already in the country,” the source said.
“ZAMRA and the Ministry of Health knew that these vaccines did not meet the World Health Organisation standard, but they did not consider destroying them at the time and only did that on Friday. They know that the issue of Covid Vaccine imports is very strict, just to move vaccines into the country is not something easy. You cannot do it without backing from people in government. So there is a cartel that was involved to facilitate the importation. Without any permit or licence to move such substances, even DEC would have been the first to move in, but the matter was kept under wrap because they waited for elections to pass.”
And responding to a press query, ZAMRA acting director general Siyanga Makomani confirmed that the vaccines were kept at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport since they were imported in July.
When asked about the name of the vaccines which were destroyed, Makomani said they were labelled Hayat-Vax SARS-COV2.
“The name of the suspected COVID 19 vaccine as stated on the labels on the product and its packaging is Hayat-Vax [SARS-COV-2 Vaccine] Vero Cell, inactivated,” Makomani said.
“According to invoice, the importer is stated as Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment. No, Ministry of Health did not procure the said vaccine.”
Makomani said the supplier did not have an import authorization from ZAMRA.
“The importer (supplier) did not have an import (permit) authorisation from ZAMRA,” he responded.
Asked to name the supplier, Makomani said; “According to the Invoice, it is Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment.”
Asked about the quantity and value of the destroyed vaccines he said “Ten thousand (10,000) doses; US$150,000.”
When further asked about the manufacturer of the vaccines and the country where the vaccines came from, Makomani said the manufacturer was Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries.
“According to the said invoice, the purported manufacturer of the vaccine is Gulf Pharmaceutical Industries,” he said.
Makomani added that the vaccine was not listed under the WHO emergency use listing and arrived in the country in July.
“The vaccine is not listed under the World Health Organisation Emergency Use Listing. The vaccine arrived in the country early July 2021,” Makomani explained.
He said the vaccines were kept at KKIA and that they were not registered or authorized by ZAMRA for use on the Zambian market.
“The vaccine consignment was being kept at ZEGA Limited at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport (KKIA). The reasons for the seizure are as follow: (a) The vaccine was not registered or authorised by ZAMRA for use on the Zambian market; (b) The importer did not have a Pharmaceutical Licence to sell, store, distribute or supply the vaccine; and (c) There importer did not have import permit issued by ZAMRA,” he said.
Makomani said the destructions of the vaccines was witnessed by ZAMRA inspectors.
“The representative of the importing entity gave consent to destroy the vaccines following engagements by ZAMRA. The destruction of the vaccines was witnessed by ZAMRA inspectors,” said Makomani.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Dr Abel Kabalo could not comment on the matter, saying he needed to get more details first.
And when contacted Findlay said he would get back to this reporter, but did not do so by press time.
“I don’t know what you are saying. I will get back to you,” said Findlay.