He told the committee that calculations had shown that the country would need to vaccinate a minimum of 67%-70% of the population to break the cycle of transmission.
He said government had to look at two options which were on the table. The first was a large number of countries that could negotiate better prices. The other option was the bilateral agreement wherein countries were expected to put some contribution and bind themselves to the fate of a particular vaccine. That meant that government had to make non-refundable contributions to secure a vaccine.
“We felt that the risk was too high. We felt it was better for South Africa to work with those countries to first find out what was the most successful vaccine and then start following the issue from there. We have affiliated on the Covax facility and then committed for the payment of a vaccine worth 10% of the population,” he said.
Mkhize said the Treasury had informed the health department that it needed to raise the money for the vaccine within the budget framework, which meant that part of the funding had to be made by the Solidarity Fund.
With its choice made, government utilized the Global Alliance On Vaccine (Gavi).
“In that process, those terms of agreement meant that there had to be guarantees. There was a lot of discussion between legal teams on both sides, that is what caused the delay to say what is the best way of expressing this guarantee and between them and Treasury it took time to resolve this…As we speak now, money was paid and guarantees have been signed,” Mkhize said.