FORMER Minister of Health Dr Brian Chituwo says he cannot understand why an institution like the Zambia Medicine Regulatory Authority (ZAMRA) did not inform citizens immediately the Hayat-Vax ‘COVID-19 vaccines’ arrived in the country.

Commenting on a Diggers investigation which revealed that Lusaka Businessman Valden Findlay’s company Chrismar Earthmoving Equipment imported fake COVID-19 vaccines for supply to the Ministry of Health, Dr Chituwo wondered why the vaccines were destroyed secretly.

“I cannot understand how such quantities of COVID-19 vaccines would be imported. What happened? Does it mean that there was connivance within ZAMRA to allow such or did the importer deceive ZAMRA that they were a legitimate dealer in medicines and allied substances? Surely such large quantities could have been detected. And destroyed secretly, why? They have to explain to the public. Were all the vaccines destroyed or some of them slipped through? I think ZAMRA must reexamine how they work because such is of public interest,” Dr Chituwo said.

“How do they do that secretly? They would have said to the public that ‘we have seized this, we are investigating’ so that people are aware, I don’t know why that was not done. It all looks very suspicious. We as the public need to be informed truthfully by ZAMRA. Just by giving us this information so late in fact raises more questions. You need to be licensed. Isn’t it in public interest to inform us what the case was? This is probably a tip of the iceberg. A lot more things were happening without us knowing.”

Dr Chituwo also wondered how someone could have imported such quantities of vaccines without an import permit.

“Now we have a new government of orderliness. I hope we shall be guided by the truth. I feel very sad and concerned that a thing like this can happen. The other consequence is that it erodes people’s confidence. How can somebody import such quantities and we are not informed, we are informed later? That is not very good for an institution like ZAMRA. It is very frightening actually because how many more people who are not authorized to import vaccines have imported them? And probably not detected? Those are the questions people will ask. ZAMRA must wake up and generate confidence from the public that they are doing the right thing, that they are looking after the health of the public,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Chituwo outlined the procedure to test medical supplies which were imported into the country.

“I am somebody who has a bit of knowledge having been in the system. It is very surprising I must say. The mandate of ZAMRA starts from importation of any drugs, medicines, or surgical, medical supplies. There has to be an import license. And when these items are imported, received, they have to be reported to ZAMRA, they have got a quality standard laboratory, they do the sampling and test the drugs or if indeed what is written on the paper is what is the content. Through their licensing system, these items will be channeled to licensed outlets where one has licensed pharmacists, licensed premises,” said Dr Chituwo.

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.