Health dept assures SA COVID-19 vaccine plan still on track

The health department maintains it is in the process of finalising its agreement with COVAX.

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JOHANNESBURG - The health department on Thursday said the delayed payment on the COVAX programme would not derail South Africa’s efforts in securing a COVID-19 vaccine.

The department quickly moved to clarify that an administrative glitch between COVAX and the Solidarity Fund had put the brakes on its participation in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVID-19 global vaccine access facility.

The department maintained it was in the process of finalising its agreement with COVAX – this after the WHO launched the programme to speed up the search for an effective vaccine.

The Solidarity Fund was meant to make a R327 million deposit to secure enough vaccines to supply 10% of the country's population this week.

However, this did not materialise as Deputy Director General of Health, Dr Anban Pillay, explained.

“The Solidarity Fund was supposed to pay a deposit on 15 December, however, the COVAX facility had not responded in terms of the documentation that was required in order for the deposit to be made. They have subsequently indicated that the deposit can be paid at a later date and indicated by next week, 22 December, would be fine.”

Pillay said despite the payment not being made on the agreed upon date, it wouldn’t hold back South Africa from accessing vaccines through the global initiative.

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The department said the delayed payment would be finalised by Treasury on Friday.

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