Vaccines will cost South Africa $1.34 billion: official

Cropped hand wearing a nitrile glove holding a Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe

It will cost South Africa at least 20 billion rand (1.34 billion U.S. dollars) to procure the coronavirus vaccine for its population, said National Treasury Director General Dondo Mogajane on Tuesday.

He said the state would consider different options to raise funds for the vaccine.

“We have to make money available for something like this. It’s important we look at options that are available for government,” he told SAfm radio, “One, we can tax South Africans and secondly we can borrow more and thirdly if we can collect more and the economy is doing well, we don’t have to do any of these two.”

“All these options are on the table and on February 24, on Budget Day, we will be announcing what option and it will be detailed enough to indicate where that money came from and how that money interacts with the whole framework,”he said.

Mogajane said the National Treasury was prepared to use emergency funding to acquire the vaccine.

“But if we talk about acquiring the vaccine tomorrow, we would pay for them. We would have to use all the available avenues in the emergency procurement,” Mogajane said.

He said there was urgency in government’s plans to acquire the vaccine.

The health department said it would receive 1 million doses of vaccine from the Serum Institute of India in January and half a million in February.

South Africa has an estimated population approaching 60 million. It has to vaccinate 67 percent of the population, roughly 40 million, to reach herd immunity.