South Africa’s Ministry of Health said South Africa will have to purchase doses of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Oxford and AstraZeneca at a price about 2.5 times higher than most European countries.
The country most affected by the virus on the African continent has requested at least 1.5 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which was expected in January and February.
On Thursday, a senior health official told AFP the doses would cost $ 5.25 (4.32 euros) each – nearly twice and half the amount most European countries pay.
EU members will pay $ 2.16 (€ 1.78) for AstraZeneca shots, according to information leaked by a Belgian minister on Twitter.
AstraZeneca France told Agence France-Presse in November that it had a maximum shot volume of 2.50 euros (about $ 3) per dose “to provide vaccines to the largest population, with as fair access as possible.”
It did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Health Ministry’s price quote.
South Africa has so far recorded more than 1.3 million cases of coronavirus and 38,800 deaths.
South Africa’s Deputy Director-General of Health, Anpan Pillay, said by text message:
“The National Ministry of Health confirms that the price of $ 5.25 is what was reported to us.”
Tell your local pillai Work day The higher price was due to the contribution of other countries to the research and development.
“The explanation we gave of why other high-income countries’ prices have fallen is that they have invested in [research and development]”From here comes the price discount,” Pillay said.
About 2,000 South Africans participated in clinical trials of the vaccine in 2020.
Bilateral deals between wealthier governments and coronavirus vaccine manufacturers have raised concerns about price hikes and supply shortages in low- and middle-income countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of “vaccine nationalism” and “price gouging”.
The AstraZeneca vaccine order in South Africa is part of the 20 million guaranteed doses that will be delivered in the first half of 2021.
The WHO-supported Covax facility is expected to provide shots to 10% of the population between April and June.
Other vaccines will be provided via the African Union and bilateral contracts with the yet to be disclosed suppliers.
SII is also set to provide 100 million doses of the vaccine to the AU for $ 3 each, Reuters mentioned.
Opposition groups have criticized the vaccination strategy in South Africa. “Reports today indicate that … the government will have to spend twice what some other countries pay for their vaccines,” the main opposition Democratic Alliance party said, blaming poor planning and delay in negotiations.
Solidarity workers union and prominent rights group Afriforum have jointly announced plans to launch a legal battle against the government due to the lack of transparency. “The government’s lack of disclosure of information is further evidence that it cannot be trusted with a monopoly on purchasing and distributing Covid-19 vaccines,” Avrivorum said.
South Africa is struggling with a second wave of infections fueled by a new type of coronavirus that scientists consider more contagious.
The government aims to vaccinate two-thirds of its population – about 40 million of the nearly 60 million people – to achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021.
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