South Africa says deposits for vaccines not refundable

South Africa health minister Zweli Mkhize

South Africa health minister Zweli Mkhize; Malaria is down

South Africa health minister Zweli Mkhize speaks on vaccines
South Africa health minister Zweli Mkhize speaks on vaccines

Agency Report

South Africa said its down-payments to Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer for COVID-19 vaccines are not refundable under any circumstances.

Health minister, Zweli Mkhize disclosed this said on Wednesday, describing the condition as onerous.

Mkhize made the comments a day after the government suspended the rollout of J&J’s vaccine, citing a recommendation by U.S. federal health agencies to pause its use because of rare cases of blood clots. read more

The suspension is the latest setback for South Africa’s efforts to immunise its population.

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It ditched plans to kick-start vaccinations with AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) vaccine in February because a small trial showed the shot offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the dominant local coronavirus variant.

Mkhize told a virtual meeting with a parliamentary committee that Africa’s most industrialised economy had to navigate “difficult and sometimes unreasonable” demands from vaccine manufacturers during negotiations.

“As government we have found ourselves in a precarious position of having to choose between saving our citizens’ lives and risking putting the country’s assets into private companies’ hands,” he said.

South Africa is paying $10 per dose for the J&J and Pfizer vaccines, he added.