SA pays R283m deposit to secure access to Covid-19 vaccines

SA has paid a deposit to secure the country’s entry to the Covax facility. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/David Izquierdo Roger

The national health department and the Solidarity Fund confirmed on Tuesday that a down payment of R283m had been made to secure SA’s entry to the Covax facility.

The payment was made in line with the fund’s previous allocation of funds and commitment to support the government’s efforts to accelerate the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines in SA.

Concerns were raised earlier that SA had missed a December 15 deadline to pay the deposit towards the vaccine programme.

“Covax has confirmed SA’s entry to the facility. The down payment represents 15% of the total cost of securing access to vaccines for 10% [roughly 6 million] of the population. The country’s membership in the Covax facility ensures that SA receives its equitable share of the vaccine once it becomes available,” the department and fund said in a joint statement on Tuesday.

“There can be no doubt that a Covid-19 vaccine will play an important role in helping SA manage the virus,” said Gloria Serobe, chairperson of the Solidarity Fund.

Health department director-general Sandile Buthelezi said the department would make additional payments in relation to vaccines delivered under the Covax facility “as they fall due over the next year”.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said the government, international partners and business had come together “for the sole purpose of delivering quality health care to the people of SA”.

“This is what we have been advocating for when we speak of multisectoral collaboration and it is gratifying to see this spirit being harnessed for the good of our people, Africans and the global village,” said Mkhize.

“We convey our sincere gratitude to the Solidarity Fund for their unwavering support to government to ensure that no-one gets left behind as we seek to protect our most vulnerable citizens against the scourge of Covid-19.”

SA is ramping up efforts to put the necessary systems and processes in place to ensure that the cold supply chain is ready when the vaccine is rolled out.