A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters
A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first human clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus, at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

SA’s missed Covax payment a ’red herring’: HJI

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Dec 18, 2020

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Cape Town - South Africa’s non-payment to Covax - the facility which pools together governments and vaccine manufacturers to ensure Covid-19 vaccines reach those in need distracts from the actual issue around equity and accessibility of vaccines, says the Health Justice Initiative (HJI)

It had been reported earlier that the Health ministry’s deputy director-general Dr Anban Pillay claimed that the Covax facility had not responded with documentation that was required in order to make a payment.

“They have subsequently indicated the deposit can be paid at a later date – by 22 December. The department has signed off on the service level agreement with the Covax facility to procure the vaccine,” Pillay was reported to have said.

However the HJI’s Fatima Hassan said the issue around payments was a red herring and a distraction.

“Besides the matter of payment to Covax - who seem to be changing their positions around deadlines and agreements, the real issue is around the equitable access to the vaccines when they do become available,” said Hassan.

She said there were several issues that remained unclear.

“We still have not heard anything from the government and health ministry around which vaccine we are possibly leaning towards. Who are the manufacturers? When will we have them? How are these vaccines going to be distributed?” asked Hassan.

She said while the payment deadline matter had been brewing for some time, more information was needed around the equitability of access to a vaccine.

“There seems to be this speculative game that is being played when it comes to the vaccine access and roll-out. We hope this will be made clearer when the Health Minister addresses the nation later on today. We need more information around the entire issue,” said Hassan.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize is scheduled to hold a joint briefing together with the ministerial advisory council on Friday evening at 6pm.

The briefing is being held to inform and present new scientific developments that have been discovered relating to Covid-19.

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