The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted that there will be funds made available for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they start arriving in the country.
The president’s statement comes a day after the Deputy Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, confirmed the first consignment would be delivered later this month.
On Tuesday, the South African President and other top six officials had a meeting with black business to discuss the Covid-19 crisis. The president said the project was major and they wanted to vaccinate 40 million people.
He said fighting Covid-19 was a priority, so the issue of available funds would not be a problem. The government has not indicated the cost of the vaccines.
The Department of Health has said it has been in communication with several pharmaceutical companies producing COVID-19 vaccines including Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca.
The South African President said there was a push to get the vaccines into the country.
“Today we established the Inter-Ministerial Committee, which will be chaired by the deputy president, but I will chair the first meeting and set processes on the way,” Ramaphosa said.
“Financing is not going to be a problem because we will pay for the vaccines,” he said.
Almost R300 million had been paid by the Solidarity Fund to the Covax facility for the procurement of vaccines.
South Africa’s Department of Health says many countries have started with the vaccines, including some African nations.
Phaahla said judging from the latest figures, the peak of the second wave was beginning to decline.
He said there were more than 18,000 infections a day when the second wave hit the country in November, but the country has now witnessed a drop in the numbers to less than 10,000 infections a day.
He said from last year, several countries around the world, including South Africa, had been starting to investigate manufacturing a vaccine for Covid-19.
South Africa also joined Covax as part of countries that were working on getting supplies of vaccines.
The World Health Organisation and several pharmaceutical companies have been involved in these discussions.
Phaahla said by the end of January, South Africa would get its first consignment of the vaccine.
The department of health has said the vaccination process will start with health workers first. They are targeting 1.25 million health-care workers.
The government also wants to deal with groups on the forefront of the fight against the virus to get the vaccine, particularly essential workers.
The South African President said it would be a ground-breaking operation as the government intends to vaccinate 40 million people later this year. Ramaphosa said this will be bigger than the 2010 soccer World Cup and the national and provincial elections.
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