A nurse wearing a mask administers a vaccination against the coronavirus disease. Picture: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP
A nurse wearing a mask administers a vaccination against the coronavirus disease. Picture: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP

Covax participation secured after SA makes R283m down payment for vaccine scheme

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Dec 22, 2020

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Cape Town – The National Department of Health and the Solidarity Fund announced that the country’s Covax participation has been secured after the down payment needed was been made.

On Tuesday, the Health department said that the down payment of $19.2 million (about R283m) has been made to Gavi (the Vaccine Alliance) to secure South Africa’s entry into the Covax facility.

The World Health Organization describes the Covax programme as the global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries worldwide with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines.

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 roll-out of vaccines in South Africa.

Covax has confirmed South Africa’s entry into 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 South Africa receives its equitable share of the vaccine once it becomes available.

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

“The Solidarity Fund was set up for exactly this purpose – to be additive to the work of the government and assist in initiatives and programmes that have the greatest impact in the fight against the pandemic. The fund is grateful to be in a position to assist at this crucial juncture.”

Department of Health Director-General Dr Sandile Buthelezi said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Solidarity Fund for providing the financial support that has enabled the country to meet the down payment obligations as required in terms of the agreement.

“The Department of Health will make additional payments, in relation to vaccines delivered under the Covax facility, as they fall due over the next year.”

Health Minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize hailed this milestone.

“It is a privilege to oversee a process that has brought together the government, international partners and business for the sole purpose of delivering quality health care to the people of South Africa.

“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,” he said.

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

“The collaboration with the Covax facility will continue as South Africa ramps up efforts to put the necessary systems and processes in place to ensure that, amongst other health systems strengthening and logistical requirements, the cold supply chain is ready to immunise the population identified.

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