The Western provincial Cape government says that it will push forward on plans to bring its own Covid-19 vaccines into South Africa as a contingency measure.
In a media briefing on Thursday (4 February) Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that the provincial government fully supports the national vaccine acquisition efforts.
However, he said that there are risks with using a ‘single acquisition vehicle’, especially in phases two and three of South Africa’s vaccine rollout where large numbers of vaccines would be required and have not yet been guaranteed through national procurement.
“Centralised procurement requires a contingency plan that is complementary to the national strategy,” he said.
“This does not mean that the province does not support or does not want to be part of the national strategy. We will continue to work with the national Department of Health, and we will, of course, coordinate our efforts with theirs.
“But we will at the same time ensure we can mitigate the risk and ensure additional pathways to source vaccines.”
Winde said that doing this not only reduces the risk associated with only one supply, but would also support the national effort, as any additional vaccines sourced for the Western Cape would be in support of the national cause overall.
He added that the province plans to work within national frameworks to bring any vaccines into the country.
“Any contingency acquisition must remain within the core parameters of the national and provincial vaccination programme, and must be driven by clinical and professional ethics in vaccine selection and in the rollout.
“It must also be subject to the necessary regulatory requirements of SAPHRA and the Medicine Control Council,” he said.
Winde said the plan requires a sourcing strategy which covers demand forecasting and planning, market analysis and the appropriate procurement modality.
He said that the province also needs to properly understand demand and determine what product is available in a rapidly changing market.
“Alongside this, there is a regulatory analysis underway. There are complex medical and financial regulatory issues which first need to be assessed. All of these processes are necessary before we can formally approach the market in a procurement process that can go ahead within the regulatory framework.”
“These are complex processes which require minute scrutiny, and which are underway by our top officials. Once they are finalized in the coming weeks, the procurement effort may commence in earnest.”
Winde said that he has held discussions with his provincial minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, as to how the province would fund any additional vaccines.
“He has indicated that the provincial government has multiple sources of revenue available, including an equitable share of nationally raised revenues, conditional grants from national government, own revenue sources and provincial reserves – but reprioritisation within existing baselines is also likely to be required.
“Funding will be made available for our vaccination programme, including procurement, as it develops. He will announce further details when he tables the provincial budget on 10 March.”
Winde said that a successful vaccination programme is the number one budget priority for the province.
“The cost of not procuring sufficient vaccines to achieve herd immunity, for the country and for the province, is simply too great for us not to consider contingencies for procurement.
“Vaccines save lives. They also reduce the cost and burden of Covid-19 care in our healthcare system, allow us to restore access to healthcare for other serious illnesses and ailments, and would allow for the opening of local and international economies.
“As a government which has been allocated a shared Constitutional mandate for the healthcare of its residents, we must be and are prepared to step in, if sufficient vaccines are not available.”