Public called on to urgently comment on draft regulations for Covid-19 fund

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
A health worker in SA receives her Covid-19 vaccine jab. South Africans have until April 19 to comment on the draft regulations for the establishment of the no-fault compensation fund. File photo.
A health worker in SA receives her Covid-19 vaccine jab. South Africans have until April 19 to comment on the draft regulations for the establishment of the no-fault compensation fund. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

The national department of health is urgently calling for the public to comment on draft regulations for the establishment of the no-fault compensation (NFC) fund that must be set up to protect citizens who will be vaccinated against Covid-19.

South Africans have until April 19 to submit suggestions and contributions.

SowetanLIVE reported on Wednesday that the national coronavirus command council (NCCC) had approved a recommendation to establish the fund.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize told parliament the fund aimed to ensure “their [citizens'] rights are fully protected during the process of the vaccination and that there is sufficient recourse ... in place should the experience of adverse events occur while being vaccinated”.

The scheme, which must be established as a precondition by vaccine manufacturer  Johnson & Johnson (J&J), will he headed by retired chief justice Sandile Ngcobo.

Pfizer has made a similar request.

Giving an update on the procurement process, Mkhize said, “In relation to the second agreement, J&J had put a precondition that no-fault compensation regulations must be published by April 30 2021. I must state that this condition has been made by Pfizer. We are pleased that [on Tuesday] the NCCC accepted the recommendations for the draft regulations to be published for public comments to the no-fault compensation fund.

“This means that South Africans will have an opportunity to make their inputs and comments on the draft regulations. This will take a period of about five days and we wish to recognise that this period is shorter than the usual processes that have been used for normal public consultation that of course is followed by parliament.” 

Mkhize said no manufacturer had made an undertaking to fund the scheme, therefore all the costs would be borne by the state.

On Tuesday the government announced that SA would be temporarily suspending the J&J vaccination rollout while scientists investigate possible links between it and a rare type of blood clot in the brain.

The suspension followed the US’s Food and Drug Administration taking a decision to pause use of the vaccination, pending a review, after reports that six women in the US developed rare cerebral venous thrombosis — blood clots in combination with low blood levels of blood platelets.

A total of 6.6 million people have been vaccinated with J&J in the US.

When the department appeared in parliament it was transparent about the extent of the stringent measures and hurdles it was facing in the procurement of vaccines.

Mkhize revealed that throughout the negotiation process, SA entered into nondisclosure and confidentiality agreements with various manufacturers, but the government acknowledged the constitutional obligation to account to parliament.

“We will be taking into account and processing all the public comments that we receive so that we are in the position to formally gazette the final regulation by April 22,” he said.

The link can be found here and comments can be e-mailed to NFCcomments@health.gov.za.

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