President Cyril Ramaphosa recently announced the reinstatement of strict measures to curb the second wave of Covid-19 that has been spreading from coast to coast. Businesses in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces are facing ruin as holiday makers have been discouraged from taking seaside vacations. Super-spreader events, hosted in coastal towns, have seen thousands of teens returning to their homes, carrying the Covid-19 virus. South Africans have had a harsh reminder that the virus won’t be leaving us any time soon. Vaccines have polarised the general population. Some are adamant that they will not take a vaccine and others are desperate for it to arrive. Whatever the case, we could use all the help we can get. The latest sobering revelation is that South Africa has missed the payment deadline for Covax and the small batch of vaccines that was expected to arrive about mid way through 2021 has not been secured.- Melani Nathan
South Africa misses Covax deadline to secure vaccines
By Antony Sguazzin
(Bloomberg) — South Africa, the country hardest hit in Africa by the coronavirus, missed a December 15 deadline to make a deposit to secure vaccines to fight the pathogen, and hasn’t arranged a guarantee to make the full payment.
The payment to the Covax program will be made in coming days, according to Tandi Nzimande, the chief executive officer of the Solidarity Fund, a philanthropic organisation backed by some of South Africa’s richest people and biggest companies. The fund undertook to make the R327m ($22m) deposit, which represents 15% of the R2.2bn that will ultimately have to be paid, after the government failed to do so.
The Department of Health said on December 4 that the country was on track to sign the agreement and make the first payment by December 15, in line with agreed timelines. The Solidarity Fund will make the payment as soon as it gets the go ahead from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, which is running Covax, Nzimande said.
The money, accompanied by a guarantee that the outstanding amount will be paid, would secure enough vaccines to supply 10% of South Africa’s population of about 60 million people. That guarantee is yet to be finalised.
“This is work in progress,” the Treasury said in an emailed response to questions on December 15. “Details will be made available once work is finalised.”
South Africa has recorded almost 900,000 Covid-19 cases, the most in Africa, and 23,661 deaths, while the economy has been devastated by measures to curb its spread.