Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Cape Town: In support of government’s quest to inoculate 67 percent of the South African population, the National Treasury will inject an amount of R9 billion to the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme.
This was on Wednesday revealed by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni while delivering the 2021 Budget Speech in Parliament.
With South Africa having recorded over 1.5 million infections, with over 50 000 leading to deaths, the cash injection will serve as a welcome relief for the country’s vaccination programme.
Over the medium term, R9 billion is allocated for vaccine rollout. Of this amount, the Department of Health is allocated R6.5 billion to procure and distribute vaccines. An amount of R100 million will be transferred to the South African Medical Research Council for vaccine research.
“Government allocated R1.3 billion in the current year for vaccine purchases. Given uncertainty around final costs, an estimated R9 billion could be drawn on from the contingency reserve and emergency allocations, bringing total potential funding for the vaccination programme to about R19.3 billion,” said the department.
In its Budget Review, the Treasury acknowledges that vaccines would play a pivotal role in saving lives and livelihoods, and supporting economic recovery.
“Ensuring access to COVID-19 vaccines is government’s immediate priority. As announced by the Minister of Health in January 2021, South Africa’s three-phase vaccine rollout strategy aims to vaccinate 67 percent of the population over 12 months,” reads the document.
The National Treasury emphasised that access to vaccinations would be provided free of charge, in line with need and the rollout schedule.
“Funding for vaccine procurement and rollout is drawn from the national budget.
Since the state is procuring vaccines on behalf of both the public and private sectors, some revenue will return to the fiscus when private providers buy vaccines from the state,” reads the document.
The department said provincial health departments will over the 12 months be allocated R2.4 billion to administer vaccines while the Government Communication and Information System will receive R50 million for an associated communications campaign.
“National department allocations are ring-fenced. Additional allocations are made through the COVID-19 component of the HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and community outreach grant introduced in the June 2020 special adjustments budget,” reads the document.