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Covid-19 vaccine bilateral negotiations began in September 2020 - Health Dept

4 January 2021 7:17 AM
Tags:
Department of Health
Dr Anban Pillay
COVID-19 vaccine
Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Health Dept Deputy Director-General, Dr Anban Pillay says the vaccine rollout will piggyback on SA's existing vaccine structure.

On Sunday, Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, outlined South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy in a public address. In the briefing, the minister said that they are targeting a minimum of 67% of the population to achieve herd immunity.

The approach will a phased rollout of the vaccine, with the first phase for the frontline health workers, some 1,250,000 people.

Phase two will be essential workers, persons who are in congregate settings, those over the age of 60, and persons who are over the age of 18 who have comorbidities.

Health Department Deputy Director-General, Dr Anban Pillay also presented at yesterday's briefing and he speaks to Refilwe Moloto about government's Covid-19 vaccine strategy.

Questions have been raised around timing and negotiations with vaccine companies through bilateral agreements.

The discussions with the companies that will be supplying us through bilaterals need to be finalised through a signed contract, and we don't want to jump the gun and announce the names of the companies at this stage.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

We expect to have stock in the country within the next couple of weeks, so by February, we should have stock to start the immunisation programme particularly for health care workers, our first group who is most vulnerable.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

He says following this, government would likely procure stock from other sources as well.

As those agreements get signed up, we anticipate in the next couple of weeks, we will be able to make announcements.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

He says many companies closed over the December period so have not yet signed off on agreements but he believes they will finalise the contracts in early January.

There has been public criticism that government did not start negotiations early enough, but Pillay insists bilateral negotiations started in Sept 2020.

We have been negotiating with them ever since.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

He describes the three vaccines available in the world.

One is the Phizer vaccine mainly in developed countries because it requires -70 degree refrigeration...South Africa only has two -70 degree refrigeration facilities...and is difficult to roll out.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

The other two vaccines that countries have rolled out are the Sinopharm vaccine from China....and the Russian vaccine, Sputnik V. Those countries that have secured those have different regulatory standards to ourselves. They are largely developing countries but do not require the same levels of safety and efficacy as our regulator Sahpra would require.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

He adds that the AstraZeneca vaccine only started being rolled out last week in the United Kingdom so is not available in large quantities. at this stage

What are the cost differences between vaccines?

We would have to finalise our negotiation about price. Public knowledge AstraZeneca sold at $3 to 5. AstraZeneca has taken a position that it depends on GDP of country.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

We don't know yet what price the vaccines will come to us at yet, but Treausty have agreed to fund the programme

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

There is no upper limit in the budget from the Treasury, he adds.

We already have an established vaccine structure because we already have an existing structure for children's vaccines...so this will be added to that programme rather than creating a separate team.

Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director General - Department of Health

Listen to Dr Anban Pillay's interview below:




4 January 2021 7:17 AM
Tags:
Department of Health
Dr Anban Pillay
COVID-19 vaccine
Covid-19 vaccine rollout

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