Discovery Health allocates cash to help SA source Covid-19 vaccine

Funds have been allocated for Discovery Health members to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
Funds have been allocated for Discovery Health members to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
Image: Reuters

Discovery Health says funding has been set aside for its members to get the Covid-19 vaccine as it throws its weight behind the country's bid to source a cost-effective supplier.

Timelines have not yet been confirmed as the medical insurance giant is in “extensive” negotiations with other private and government role players to secure a vaccine, Ronald Whelan, chief commercial officer at Discovery Health, told eNCA.

This comes as SA has breached the one million mark for infections, and there is talk of fresh restrictions being imposed to curb the recent resurgence of infections which has left private and public hospitals running out of intensive care beds and oxygen in four provinces.

Board approval for funding to be set aside for its members to get the vaccine was agreed to six weeks ago, Whelan said.

A prioritisation procedure will apply, with the first people to get the vaccine being essential health workers, followed by people at risk of more severe manifestations of the coronavirus and then the scheme's broader-based members.

Whelan said the target is to secure enough vaccines for the entire country, with the combined efforts of other companies and the national health department.

“We are committed to an equitable rollout of vaccines, and [discussions are under way] to leverage the buying power to get a good commercial arrangement from vaccine manufacturers,” he said.

“The vaccine is really only effective if we vaccinate the whole country. We need to achieve herd immunity across SA.”

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