South Africa has made a deposit of R283-million to Gavi – the Vaccine Alliance – to secure the country’s entry into the COVAX facility. This down payment is 15% of what is needed to secure vaccines for 10% of the population. This equates to roughly 6 million people.
The Health Department and Solidarity Fund said in a joint statement on 22 December that COVAX has confirmed South Africa’s entry into the facility. The country’s membership in the COVAX facility ensures that South Africa receives its equitable share of the vaccine once it becomes available.
“There can be no doubt that a Covid-19 vaccine will play an important role in helping South Africa manage the virus,” said Gloria Serobe, chairperson of the Solidarity Fund. “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.”
The Department of Health’s Director-General, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, 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.”
The Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, described it “as the epitome of excellence in health service delivery through multilateralism. It is a privilege to oversee a process that has brought together government, international partners and business for the sole purpose of delivering quality healthcare to the people of South Africa. This is what we have been advocating 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. We convey our sincere gratitude to the Solidarity Fund for its unwavering support to 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 statement said the collaboration with the COVAX facility would continue as South Africa ramps up efforts to “put the necessary systems and processes in place to ensure that, among other health systems strengthening and logistical requirements, the cold supply chain is ready to immunise the population identified”. DM/MC
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