South Africa has paid R500 million to participate in the Covax program, which strives to supply low- and middle-income countries with proven Covid-19 vaccines to ensure equitable access around the world, says finance minister Tito Mboweni.
In a Bloomberg webinar on Tuesday (24 November), Mboweni said he will find a further R4.5 billion from the budget to make sure South Africa has an adequate supply and is at ‘the front of the queue’ when vaccines become available.
The global Covax alliance has raised more than $2 billion and secured deals for roughly 700 million doses so far.
“South Africa is in the fortunate position that we have been invited to participate in the consortium that is looking for this vaccine. I just hope that we do not face a second wave of the pandemic,” Mboweni said.
When asked about whether a vaccine will materially shift the country’s growth prospects, Mboweni answered that ‘it has to’.
“The healthier the population is, the less the chances of another lockdown, (which will mean) that the green shoots start growing and become much more significant. I am very confident about it.”
Mboweni would not be drawn into answering when a vaccine would be available, instead stating that he was ‘kicking into touch’ as the finance minister.
Three major Covid-19 vaccine trials have shown promising results in the last month, with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca announcing on Monday that its vaccine stopped an average of 70% of participants from falling ill.
That’s below the high bar set by Pfizer and Moderna, but effectiveness rose to 90% for one of two dosing regimes, using half a dose followed by a full one later.
“We see a lot of merit in this regimen and we will now start discussions with regulators into incorporating this dose combination for further clinical investigation,” an Astra spokesman said.