South Africa ‘held to ransom’ over Covid vaccine deals – NGO

Lazy eyes listen


An inquiry of South Africa’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccinations discovered that the country’s health officials paid inflated costs for supplies from global pharmaceutical companies compared to numerous Western nations.

During a news conference this week, the Health Justice Initiative (HJI), an independent body formed during the pandemic to monitor the South African healthcare system’s handling of the crisis, stated that the government was “bullied” into accepting unfavorable vaccine deals through one-sided “ransom negotiations.”

“The [vaccine] contracts contain unusually hefty demands and conditions, including secrecy, a lack of transparency, and very little leverage against late or non-delivery of supplies or inflated prices,” the HJI stated on Tuesday. It went on to say that this approach resulted in “gross profiteering” and a “inability to plan.”

The HJI filed a court challenge last month under the country’s Promotion of Access to Information Act to the terms established by South Africa’s government with Big Pharma corporations like as Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccinations.

In the interest of transparency and accountability, a Pretoria court later ruled in favor of the HJI, requiring the South African government to divulge the vaccine contracts.

According to the records, South Africa was responsible for $734 million in vaccination payments. The agreements contained no promises of early delivery or penalties for late arrival. Johnson & Johnson also charged South Africa $10 per dosage of its vaccine, which was $1.50 more than what EU countries paid.

“The country was forced to overpay for vaccines, paying 33% more than the African Union price from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and paying the Serum Institute of India 2.5 times more for a generic version of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine compared to the United Kingdom,” according to the report.

According to the group, the government’s activities during the epidemic “signals a dangerous precedent for future pandemic readiness,” and that “we were bullied into unfair and undemocratic terms in contracts that were completely one-sided.” Simply put, pharmaceutical industry held us hostage.”

According to publicly available data, South Africa has registered 102,595 Covid-19 deaths since the outbreak began. Approximately 65% of South Africans had gotten a vaccine against the virus as of May 2023.