Quo Vadis: Covid-19 Vaccine in South Africa

From how much it will cost to vaccinate all South Africans to when it will be available are all moot. In this blog my brother Blaine adds his tuppence to the debate. Personally I am now a hardened cynic after 25 years of corrupt and incompetent ANC rule.

Main picture: Covid-19 virus

In mid December, a Belgian Minister tweeted the prices that the EU was paying for the vaccine per dose (R18/Euro, R15/$):

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca   R32
  • J&J                              R128
  • Sanofi/GSK                  R136
  • CureVac                      R180
  • Pfizer/BioNTech        R216
  • Moderna                     R270

To vaccinate (2 doses) 1 million people would cost:

  • Oxford/AstraZeneca    R64m
  • J&J                              R256m
  • Sanofi/GSK                 R272m
  • CureVac                      R360m
  • Pfizer/BioNTech       R432m
  • Moderna                    R540m

Let’s put these numbers in perspective.  

The pathetic Beit Bridge fence which was not fit for any purpose other than to get stolen, cost us R37m which would have paid for the vaccination of 560,000 people using the Oxford vaccine.  This would have inoculated all our health workers who should be first in the queue.

In fact R37m is the amount regularly scammed off your common or garden government procurement contract.  Actually, this is down at minor municipal level or the standard Lottery grant scam.  Let’s not even talk about the money scammed/blown on irregular PPE procurement earlier this year which could run into billions not to mention R260m of unregistered Cuban drugs that were flown in by the SANDF under the fig leaf of emergency procurement and with a broken cold chain, nogal.

The retrenchment packages for SAA employees will cost R2.2bn.  They were overly generous just like all their pay increases.  This roughly corresponded to 1 year’s salary, an unheard of amount in the private sector.  Let’s say that half of that was pure excess, in other words, R1.1bn.  This would have paid for the inoculation of 17 million people using the Oxford vaccine, or 1/3 of our population!

Yet in the midst of all this profligate expenditure, it seems as if the government didn’t want to pay for any advance orders, even to J&J who will be manufacturing here and exporting it all or to Oxford who trialled their vaccine here.

So instead of vaccinating at least our health workers, we sit in the Covax pool, hoping that somewhere along the line we will be allocated a few doses.  We’re playing the victim again like we have been doing for 26 years.  Oxford is promising to deliver 2 million doses per week but the UK has already ordered 100 million shots which will approximately do their population but it will take a year.  

On top of the money angle, we have not yet medically approved any vaccines although the data is available and this is the very first step to take before procurement can start.  Even Chile is rolling out its vaccination program while we are clueless.

Where does that leave SA?  Exactly nowhere.

I reckon, in a year’s time less than 25% of our population will have been inoculated if we’re lucky.  And it’s no use waiting for Sinovac or similar to bail us out.  China’s priority is their 1.4 billion population.

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