Finance minister Tito Mboweni announced that South Africa will be getting the COVAX global COVID-19 vaccine distribution scheme, with a committed purchase for 10% of its population of 58 million. Mboweni said during a Bloomberg Invest Africa virtual conference on Tuesday that South Africa paid R500 million into the COVAX programme.
Jamaloodien said the facility would give the country an early batch of vaccines with which to start protecting people.
“We have to be strategic about how we do this, because the intention is to cover a larger proportion of the population. Initially the strategy is to protect the vulnerable… the vulnerable includes our healthcare workers and then those which we will identify as priority groups.”
The decision reportedly followed advice from a group of experts.
The South African government has publicly expressed support for COVAX, but it had yet to say how much of the population it would seek to cover via the facility co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), and whether it would go for the committed, rather than optional, purchase arrangement.
The global COVAX alliance has raised more than $2 billion and secured deals for roughly 700 million doses so far, Bloomberg reported.
The COVAX program strives to supply low and middle-income countries with proven Covid-19 vaccines to ensure equitable access around the world, according to Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. He also said he will find a further R4.5 billion from the budget to make sure South Africa has an adequate supply and is at “the front of the queue” when vaccines become available. There may also be scope to help some neighbors, he added.
The government is trying to keep its options open while it assesses which vaccine will be most effective locally and most affordable. South Africa does not qualify for subsidised vaccines because South Africa is an upper middle income country.
South African recorded the most coronavirus infections on the African continent, with more than 760,000 confirmed cases and over 20,000 deaths to date.