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COVID-19 vaccines will be free for all, says Minister Mkhize

He said the vaccines would be paid for largely by public funds while the private sector, especially private health funders, would augment this.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has on Tuesday announced that South Africans will not have to pay for vaccinations against COVID-19.

He said the vaccines will be paid for largely by public funds while the private sector, especially private health funders, would augment this.

Mkhize has also hit back at media speculation that the doses of AstraZeneca vaccine imported by South Africa will be returned to India, saying it was untrue.

READ MORE: First 80,000 J&J vaccines due to touch down in SA on Tuesday

He said the doses had been offered to countries in the African Union, which were not dealing with the same variant that South Africa is battling with.

He was speaking in Parliament during the first day of debate on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address on Tuesday.

ALSO READ: SA should include Novavax in its COVID-19 vaccine arsenal - Madhi

Mkhize said government was in talks with manufacturers and suppliers of the COVID-19 vaccines through different channels and was engaging with the makers of multiple vaccines. He said the government was also in talks with Cuba about the development of their candidate vaccine.

“To ensure that our battle against the pandemic remains grounded in the principle of solidarity and compassion, our strategy is that the state will be the sole purchaser of the vaccine in the country, irrespective of the manufacturer and the source.”

In his speech, Mkhize said vaccines would be free at the point of care.

Mkhize said the February rollout of the vaccines would not be derailed by the problems that arose around the inefficacy of the AstraZeneca doses imported from India.

ALSO READ: Explained: AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine efficacy and expiry dates

He said media speculation that the vaccines would be returned to India was untrue. He also said the money spent on them would not be wasted.

“The AstraZeneca doses that we have purchased have been offered to the African Union, which we are part of, and will be distributed to the countries that have already indicated interest and do not have this particular challenge of this variant. There will, therefore, be no wasteful expenditure.”

Mkhize said Ramaphosa would announce details of the vaccine roll out soon. He said about 380,000 healthcare workers had already registered for the vaccine.

WATCH: SA's phase 1 COVID-19 vaccination rollout to continue with Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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