The South African government is set to spend at least R5 billion on accessing Covid-19 vaccines and R500 million has already been allocated for the country to be part of an international vaccine distribution consortium, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni revealed on Tuesday.
He was speaking during a session of the Bloomberg Invest webinar on Africa, which included several business, political and healthcare leaders from the continent.
“South Africa is in a very fortunate position in that we have been invited to participate in the consortium that is looking for this vaccine. Already a decision has been made that South Africa is paying R500 million to participate in the process of the production of the vaccine. [This] is so that we can be in the frontline of those [countries] that can receive the vaccine,” he said.
“The Minister of Health [Zweli Mkhize] is very happy about it… It is very rare that any minister is happy with the Minister of Finance,” Mboweni joked.
“R500 million is in the pocket of the consortium. South African will be participating as one of the few emerging market countries,” he said.
He added that the government is set to allocate a further R4.5 billion for Covid-19 vaccines, however these funds will be part of the new budget process (likely the 2020 main budget in February next year).
Mboweni did not specifically mention the international Covid-19 consortium that South Africa is participating in. However, news agency Reuters reported that the R500 million payment is going to the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The initiative is the main WHO-organised partnership scheme for ensuring global vaccine access. President Cyril Ramaphosa has previously mentioned South Africa’s intension to partner the WHO in order to secure access to Covid-19 vaccines for not only the country but for the continent too.
Meanwhile, in his daily Covid-19 update on Tuesday night, Mkhize noted that there were 772 252 confirmed cases of the virus in South Africa. However, there were only 34 725 active cases, with 716 444 recoveries.
#COVID19 Statistics in SA as at 24 November.
Use the COVID Alert SA app to protect yourself, your loved ones and your community. Start using this privacy preserving app today. Add your phone to the fight! Download the Covid Alert SA app now! https://t.co/8YKEqaiiRF pic.twitter.com/cnp10RzTPZ
— Dr Zweli Mkhize (@DrZweliMkhize) November 24, 2020
The health minister reported 2 493 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 115 deaths, taking the country’s official Covid-19 death toll to 21 083.
Of the reported active cases, the Eastern Cape has the highest number at 8 512. It is followed by the Western Cape with 7 880 active cases, while the Free State has 7 280 and KwaZulu-Natal 5 645. Gauteng has only 243 reported active cases.