The Dominican Republic only administered 588,397 doses of AstraZeneca of the 10 million contracted
Of the 10 million doses agreed by the State, only 588,397 have been administered as of January 18, 2022
Santo Domingo, DR
Between February 16, 2021, and February 28, 2022, the country placed 15,252,198 doses.
The Dominican population has been vaccinated against the disease with doses from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
In October 2020, the Health Cabinet announced the contracting of 10 million vaccines with the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca-BioNtech for US$40 million, this being the first major effort by the authorities to guarantee the biological vaccine for the population.
Of these 10 million doses agreed by the State, only 588,397 have been applied until January 18, 2022.
With the arrival of the pandemic, the Dominican government undertook a search to bring to the country the vaccines that would help inoculate the population against the Covid-19 virus.
Seven months after signing the agreement to acquire the AstraZeneca vaccine, no shipment of this vaccine had yet arrived in the country. In addition, the European pharmaceutical company failed several times to comply with the preliminary delivery schedule of the vaccinations with the Dominican authorities.
According to the purchase contract, the company was supposed to deliver 400,000 doses of the anticovid vaccine to the country on March 21 and 800,000 on April 21. However, this resulted in a backlog of 1,200,000 vaccines.
AstraZeneca defaulted for the third consecutive month on May 21, 2021, with another 800,000 inoculations. Two of the 10 million contracted doses should have been delivered by that date.
The schedule contained in the agreement divides the total vaccines purchased into a monthly delivery format between March 21 and October 21, 2021.
In April, the Dominican Republic received a shipment of 91,200 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. However, the delivery occurred through the Covax mechanism, outside the contract signed with the company.
A month later, with no sign of those contracted, another 187,000 additional vaccines arrived in the country from the same program.
Government position on delays
When questioned about the delay of the vaccines, the legal consultant of the Executive Branch, Antoliano Peralta, admitted the existence of “delays” in the process.
Days later, the Dominican government announced in a press conference that it was not contemplating suing AstraZeneca for not having delivered the vaccines, which were already paid for on the date stipulated in the contracts.
Vice President Raquel Peña attributed the delays in deliveries to “a situation that is happening worldwide,” said that the agreement was signed and had to be complied with by the pharmaceutical company, but did not specify if there would be any consequences for missing the deadlines.
He also said that the country was in constant communication with the pharmaceutical company to deliver the vaccines “therefore the Dominican Republic will continue to ensure that we can receive what we have paid for.”
What consequences could AstraZeneca face?
Given these non-compliances, the question arises as to whether or not there will be sanctions for AstraZeneca for these faults.
The European pharmaceutical company made sure that it shielded itself from any lawsuit for the delay in the delivery of the doses, from possible adverse effects caused by its vaccine or from its negligent acts, by placing a clause in the contracts that exempted them from any liability if any of the situations mentioned above should occur.
This clause is contained under the name “reasonable best efforts.” The preamble defines it as “the activities and degree of effort that a company of similar size, with similar infrastructure and comparable resources as AstraZeneca, would undertake or use in the development and manufacture of a vaccine, product at the relevant development or commercialization stage, taking into account the urgent need for a vaccine to end a pandemic that is resulting in serious health problems, restrictions on personnel freedoms and economic impact, worldwide, but taking into account efficacy and safety.”
The paragraph could imply that the pharmaceutical company is not contractually committed to delivering all the vaccines but instead committed to making every effort to do so.
The clause is not unique to the contract with the Dominican Republic. These are defense mechanisms implemented by companies developing anti-virus vaccines in their agreements with countries worldwide.
Doubts about the vaccine
Several international medical groups questioned AstraZeneca for adverse reactions such as blood clots allegedly caused by the vaccine.
In fact, countries such as Italy, Denmark, Norway and Iceland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Luxembourg decided to suspend immunization with this pharmaceutical company’s vaccine until the alleged reactions were scientifically ruled out.
Vice President Raquel Peña stated in March 2021 that the country was “pending the course of research” for the use of these vaccines.
The Dominican government also concluded negotiations in February 2021 with the pharmaceutical company Sinovac Life Sciences Co. Ltd. for 15,768,000 vaccines.
It should be noted that up to January 2022, 9,438,604 doses of this amount have been delivered.
A similar scenario occurred with the Pfizer vaccine. The country made an initial agreement with this pharmaceutical company for 7,999,000 vaccines, which was extended to 9,999,990, for which a total cost of US$119,999,880 must be paid.
As of January, 4,352,014 doses of Pfizer vaccine had been administered in the country.
Vaccines administered according to doses
As of January 18, 2022, some 6,979,904 people had received their first dose. 71.3% of the vaccines given as the first dose were from Sinovac, while 24% were from Pfizer. The remaining percentage corresponds to doses administered by AstraZeneca (4.4%) and Sinopharm (0.3%).
According to the Ministry of Public Health, in data provided to the Listín, 5,765,981 citizens had received their second dose up to that day.