Covid-19 vaccine prep targets looting

The private sector will also provide the government with skills, resources and capacity to allocate, distribute and administer the vaccines, as well as help with tracking and tracing and monitoring for any adverse effects of taking the vaccines.

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“We have a multi-sector oversight structure that includes business, civil society. They will have sight of the processes of procurement so that if there is any concern they can raise it immediately and we can deal with it then.”

Mkhize said transparency will safeguard SA from any risk of corruption.

A health department report distributed to stakeholders this month details how contractors’ vehicles that deliver vaccines will have vehicle tracking and monitoring, with security deployed at administration points. Vaccines will be bar coded for tracking purposes and there will be strict data verification of volumes distributed against volumes administered.

In terms of funding, Ramaphosa told the Sunday Times this week that though SA could have done more to fight Covid-19 if it had more money, there will be no compromises when it comes to rolling out vaccines.

“On our side, we could have done a lot more if we had the money,” he admitted.

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“If we had the money to do what many countries have done, [which is] to pre-pay, or to say to Pfizer, ‘We will give you money without knowing whether it will succeed’. we could have done that but we didn’t have the money.”

However, Ramaphosa said when it came to funding the vaccine, “we are going to have the money, it will come from Treasury. There is just no way we can say, when it comes to saving the lives of South Africans, that we don’t have the money. The money will be there. It has to be there to save the lives of South Africans. That one will be my bottom line.”

He said the Treasury will be the leading department during the procurement process now under way.

SA has paid a deposit of R283m to the Covax programme to secure a vaccine for 10% of the country’s population in the second quarter of the year. Some 12-million vaccine doses will be delivered from Covax. The government has also secured 1.5-million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca and 9-million from Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

“We are having direct negotiations with all of them, Pfizer, J&J and AstraZeneca,” said Ramaphosa. “J&J will be producing through Aspen here at home, and we are hoping to get the bulk of our supply from there, once the production starts.”

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Asked if he was satisfied with the manner in which the Treasury is responding to the needs of the country in terms of vaccines, he said: “Yes, Treasury has done the best that they can. Even when we were dealing with the PPE they set in place certain systems and regulations, but obviously along the way those systems and regulations were violated, so there have been those weaknesses in the broader framework of the system.”

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