President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday allayed the fears of many South Africans, saying the Treasury would have the money to fund the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine.
“There is no way we can say, when it comes to saving the lives of South Africans, that we don’t have the money. The money will be there. It has to be there to save the lives of South Africans. That one will be my bottom line,” said Ramaphosa.
The president made the comment during a media engagement at the ANC’s Luthuli House headquarters in central Johannesburg on Friday.
Ramaphosa said the Treasury would become the lead department during the procurement process of the vaccine, which is currently under way.
“Treasury has done the best it can. Even when we were dealing with PPE [personal protective equipment], they set in place certain systems and regulations, but along the way those systems and regulations were violated. There have been those weaknesses in the broader framework of the system,” the president said.
Ramaphosa also responded to statements made by the chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, Prof Salim Abdool Karim, who during an interview on SAfm this week said he felt like he let the country down by not joining global scientists to help create a vaccine that would benefit South Africans.
“The professor was saying that we, as I understood it, have dropped the ball because perhaps we could have moved forward to develop our own vaccine because we have capacity to produce vaccines for animals and all of that.
“[Perhaps] the discipline that he has as an epidemiologist, they could have done a lot more. I think on our side, we could have done a lot more if we had the money.
“If we had the money to do what many countries have done, [which is] to pre-pay, or to say to Pfizer or J&J [Johnson & Johnson], ‘You are developing one, we will give you money,’ without knowing whether it will succeed.
“Maybe if we had the money, we could have done that — but we didn’t have the money. Those northern countries have been able to be successful because many of them did that. They pre-ordered and many other countries in the world, like us, have to focus on [procurement] channels,” said Ramaphosa.