Tuesday, 22 December 2020

Pretoria: South Africa has made a down payment to secure the COVID-19 vaccine for 10% of the country’s population.

“The National Department of Health and the Solidarity Fund are pleased to announce that a down payment of US $19.2 million USD (R283 million) has been made to GAVI (the Vaccine Alliance) to secure South Africa’s entry into the COVAX facility,” the department and fund said in a statement on Tuesday.

The payment was made in line with the fund’s previous allocation of funds and commitment to support 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 six 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.

Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, has hailed this milestone as the epitome of excellence in health service delivery through multilaterism.

“It is a privilege to oversee a process that has brought together 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 multi-sectoral collaboration, and it is gratifying to see this spirit being harnessed for the good of our people, Africans and the global village,” Mkhize said.

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 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,” Serobe said.

The Department of Health’s Director-General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, has thanked 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.” Buthelezi said.