SA misses COVAX payment deadline

The solidarity fund was meant to make a R327 million deposit to secure enough vaccines to supply 10% of the country's population.

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CAPE TOWN - The Head of compliance at the Department of Health on Thursday confirmed South Africa missed the deadline to pay the deposit necessary to secure COVAX vaccine supplies.

The department maintained it was in the process of finalising its agreement with COVAX, blaming the missed deadline on an administrative issue.

The solidarity fund was meant to make a R327 million deposit to secure enough vaccines to supply 10% of the country's population by Wednesday.

The health department, however said the glitch would not prejudice South Africa's chances of getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Deputy Director General of Health Anban Pillay, said, “The COVAX facility has not responded in terms of the documentation that was required in order for payment of the deposit to be made. They have subsequently indicated the deposit can be paid at a later date – by 22 December. The department has signed off on the service level agreement with the COVAX facility to procure the vaccine.”

The fund, which was set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa in March, has collected R3.14 billion in donations to date.

The World Health Organization launched the COVAX programme to speed up the search for an effective vaccine and South Africa wanted in on it.

Earlier this month, The Solidarity Fund’s CEO Tandi Nzimande said that they have set aside millions for it.

"This particular donation is earmarked for the upfront payment required for South Africa to join the programme. It represents 15% of the total cost of securing access to the vaccine for 10% of the population. That would be roughly six million people."

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