Picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration
Picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration

What’s holding up the sale of the one million AstraZeneca vaccines?

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Mar 12, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The African Union has spoken out on why it is yet to finalise its deal with South Africa, to buy the one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The vaccines are being sold after it was found that they offered limited efficacy against the new variant of Coronavirus that has emerged in South Africa.

While the deal is said to be in the final stages, at his weekly media briefing, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Dr John Nkengasong said the reason why they had not signed is due to the ownership of the indemnification for the vaccines; who is going to be liable in the event of harm or loss from the use of these vaccines.

“These vaccines (AstraZeneca) came from Serum Institute of India and they had signed an agreement with the government of South Africa and it was very clear on who owns the indemnification (assurance/insurance) policy for that,” Nkengasong said.

“Now that we are going to get the vaccines from South Africa, you have to have an entity that owns that indemnification. So that is the only remaining step that has really held that process back,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), countries receiving Covid-19 vaccines through its Covax Facility, whether distributed under an emergency use authorization or recently licensed, will be required to indemnify manufacturers, donors, distributors, and other stakeholders (the “Indemnified Entities”) against any losses they incur from the deployment and use of those vaccines.

This means that each country participating in the Covax Facility will be required to pay any legal awards in that regard against the Indemnified Entities; regardless of whether the country is a high or upper-middle-income country supplied with vaccines through the Covax Facility or a country in the AMC Group.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has also revealed that the cost of the vaccine will be cheap.

“The AU will buy it (from South Africa) at the same cost we spent at the Serum Institute (of India). Our legal team are finalising the agreement between us and the AU before they are released to various countries,” said Mkhize.

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