South Africa has missed the December 15 deadline to pay a deposit to secure shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine. But the Solidarity Fund will make the payment as soon as it gets the go ahead.
South Africa has been the hardest hit country on the African continent, with 892,813 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 24,011 deaths. As the country experiences its so-called “second wave” of infections right now, there is a dire need to distribute the vaccine quickly. The government has placed an order for enough vaccines to immunise 10% of the country’s population, which is approaching 60 million people.
However, the vaccine doesn’t come for free and distributors set a deadline of 15 December to pay the R327 million deposit, which needs to be accompanied by a guarantee that the remainder of the total cost of R2.2 billion will be paid.
The payment will be made in the coming days by Solidarity Fund CEO, Tandi Nzimande. The solidarity fund is a philanthropic body backed by some of South Africa’s richest people and biggest companies. On 4 December, the Department of Health said that it was on track to make the 15 December deadline.
“The Solidarity Fund will make the payment as soon as it gets the go ahead from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisations (Gavi), which is running Covax,” Nzimande told Bloomberg by phone on Thursday.
However, a treasury-backed guarantee that the remainder of the payment will be made has not been forthcoming.
“This is work in progress,” the Treasury told Business Day. “Details will be made available once work is finalised.”