'You will fall into trap of Big Pharma'

Makhura rules out Gauteng obtaining its own Covid vaccines

02 March 2021 - 14:36
By Siviwe Feketha
Gauteng Premier David Makhura
Image: Veli Nhlapo Gauteng Premier David Makhura

Gauteng premier David Makhura has dismissed calls by the DA for his administration to look into directly securing vaccines for citizens in the province.

This comes as SA looks to vaccinate about 40m people to secure the 67% population herd immunity required in the fight against Covid-19.

Gauteng is looking to vaccinate at least 10.7m people in the province.

SA has so far received 80,000 of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines with another 80,000 expected, all to be administered to frontline workers.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that the government had signed for another 11m vaccine doses from J&J, 20m Pfizer vaccine double doses as well as 12m doses of Covax vaccine.

The DA's Solly Msimanga told the legislature on Tuesday that Gauteng’s 15.5m population would need the provincial government to procure vaccines directly from the manufacturers to secure enough doses for the province.

“If we can have additional resources that we can use from a provincial perspective, then we should do that directly as a province,” Msimanga said.

Makhura, however, shut down the suggestion, accusing the DA of trying to import its “illusion of federalism” from the Western Cape into the country’s economic hub.

“We must never be misled to think that a provincial jurisdiction can procure vaccines directly,” Makhura said.

Makhura said heads of various spheres of government had been recently briefed during a meeting with the Presidential Advisory Council about how pharmaceutical companies had been trying to undermine the authority of countries and coercing them to sign agreements that undermined their sovereignty around the world.

He said vaccine manufacturers also sought to waiver away all the risks associated with the vaccines.

“I know [Western Cape premier Alan] Winde was there and that it has been his ambition to think you can just go as a province to secure vaccines. Out of that meeting it was very clear for us that it is important that in our country there is one central place where vaccines are procured,” Makhura said.

He said while SA desperately needed more vaccines, this needed to be done while protecting the interests of the country which are shouldered by the national government.

“That is why vaccine federalism will never work. You will fall into the trap of Big Pharma,” he said.