Covid-19: Western Cape approached J&J, Pfizer to buy vaccines, but were 'turned down'

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Western Cape was unable to procure vaccines.
Western Cape was unable to procure vaccines.
Getty/David Greedy
  • Pharmaceutical companies are still turning down requests for vaccine purchases from anybody other than the national government.  
  • The Western Cape government said it had budgeted to buy extra vaccines to help with the rollout, but so far none of the companies approached would do business at provincial level.  
  • In the meantime, the province is getting proposals from companies hoping to sell vaccines, but can only open tendering once the national government has given the go-ahead.  

Pharmaceutical companies are still turning down requests for vaccine purchases from anybody other than the national government.  

The Western Cape government said it had budgeted to buy extra vaccines, but so far none of the companies approached would do business at a provincial level - only with national.  

The provincial government is receiving proposals through its normal supply chain management system from companies offering to help procure vaccines, but they will have to follow the usual tendering processes when the national government gives the go-ahead for provinces to be able to buy their own vaccines.

READ | SA 'vaccinating 10 000 people a day' - but experts say we may miss targets

"At this stage in South Africa, there is no confirmation for approval of any vaccine except for J&J which is part of the implementation study," said Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo. 

"We approached Pfizer and J&J to sell to the province. They said 'no, we want to engage with national'," said Mbombo. 

"In the meantime, we are preparing for when everyone can procure vaccines." 

Mbombo was speaking while tabling the third adjustment appropriation bill for health in the province at the legislature's standing committee on health on Wednesday.

READ | Covid-19 crisis: Stuttering SA left behind as Rwanda powers ahead in vaccination drive

"It is not against the law for the province or anyone to procure the vaccine," she added. "It is up to the provider [to decide whether to tender]." 

Western Cape Department of Health head Dr Keith Cloete told the committee that only 2 000 healthcare workers had been vaccinated on Tuesday, ahead of possible third and fourth waves of Covid-19.  

He said that to vaccinate at least 5.1 million people of the projected population of seven million people in the Western Cape in 2021, at least 25 000 to 30 000 people would have to be vaccinated every day over the next two to three months.  

A statement posted on the provincial health department's website on Wednesday said, to date, the Western Cape had received 31 260 vaccines, and have vaccinated 27 570 healthcare workers in the province – using 88% of its allocated quantity since the start of the vaccination rollout during Phase 1.  

Mbombo said that people must keep preventing the spread of Covid-19, and urged young people to be careful when socialising.

"The bundles [of joy] when they come back from varsity or grooving, they must know they must still protect the older persons," she said. 

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