February 26, 2021

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Ramaphosa: Vaccine a priority, announces R327 million COVAX payment

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During his address on Thursday 3 December, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that government remains committed to ensuring that South Africa is in poll position to receive COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they become available.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) earlier voiced their deep frustration with government’s efforts to secure access to the imminent vaccine, having learnt that government had seemingly “bungled” its task of ensuring that the vaccine would be made widely available to South Africa’s 59 million strong population, but Ramaphosa insisted that his administration is on top of it, announcing that the Solidarity Fund will help fund the procurement of vaccines.

Ramaphosa: ‘Nobody must be left behind’

Ramaphosa said that the South African government is continuing to collaborate with partners in the international community to ensure that all countries have access to an affordable and effective vaccine. “No one must be left behind,” he said.

He confirmed that government is participating in the COVAX facility initiative, which aims to pool resources and ensure equitable access to vaccines for emerging countries, and he announced that payments have already been made to the initiative to ensure that South Africa will be in line to receive the facility’s support.

Proherbarium

“We are encouraged that the Solidarity Fund will be making an initial contribution of R327 million on behalf of our country to COVAX, and also we are encouraged that the current results of candidate vaccines are showing 70-90% effectiveness,” he said.

“We await confirmation that the vaccines soon to become available are safe, effective, and suitable for needs of our people.” 

He said that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAPRA) will review approval applications when received and authorise their use. He added that until a vaccine is developed and made available to the population, “we are our own best protection against COVID-19”. 

Concerns that SA is falling behind in procurement strategy

National Treasury has already paid R500 million towards the COVAX programme. This payment, however, falls well short of the investment required to ensure that SA is moved to the front of the queue.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni indicated earlier this week that a further R4.5 billion will be needed to do that, and experts have warned that even then, only 3% of the population would be guaranteed an immunising jab.

Fellow African nations Botswana and Namibia have already agreed to procure vaccines from Covax for approximately 20% of their populations of about 2 million people each, and Rwanda plans to raise $15 million for its first procurement of vaccines.