South Africa Misses Covax Deadline to Secure Vaccines

South Africa, the country hardest hit in Africa by the coronavirus, missed a Dec. 15 deadline to make a deposit to secure vaccines to fight the pathogen, and hasn’t arranged a guarantee to make the full payment.

The payment to the Covax program will be made in coming days, according to Tandi Nzimande, the chief executive officer of the Solidarity Fund, a philanthropic organization backed by some of South Africa’s richest people and biggest companies. The fund undertook to make the 327 million rand ($22 million) deposit, which represents 15% of the 2.2 billion rand that will ultimately have to be paid, after the government failed to do so.

The Department of Health said on Dec. 4 that the country was on track to sign the agreement and make the first payment by Dec. 15, in line with agreed timelines. The Solidarity Fund will make the payment as soon as it gets the go ahead from the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, which is running Covax, Nzimande said by phone on Thursday.

The money, accompanied by a guarantee that the outstanding amount will be paid, would secure enough vaccines to supply 10% of South Africa’s population of about 60 million people. That guarantee is yet to be finalized.

“This is work in progress,” the Treasury said in an emailed response to questions on Dec. 15. “Details will be made available once work is finalized.”

South Africa has recorded almost 900,000 Covid-19 cases, the most in Africa, and 23,661 deaths, while the economy has been devastated by measures to curb its spread.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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