Health campaigners want access to govt's vaccine procurement contract with J&J

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(Justin Tallis / AFP)
(Justin Tallis / AFP)
  • The HJI wants to see the vaccine procurement contract between SA and pharmaceutical companies. 
  • J&J has a fill and finish contract with Aspen in the Eastern Cape.  
  • The company has been accused of exporting millions of locally-produced vaccines to Europe. 

The Health Justice Initiative (HJI) wants to file an application for access to the government's Covid-19 contract with Johnson and Johnson (J&J).  

It follows a New York Times story that vaccines produced at the Aspen plant in Gqeberha are exported to European countries. 

According to the report, Germany received shots produced by Aspen in April.

In June and July, Spain received more than 800 000 doses, according to the country's health ministry.

J&J vaccines are filled and finished at the Gqeberha plant in the Eastern Cape.  

READ | Gordon Brown slams export of '10 million' J&J vaccines from South Africa to Europe

During a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, the HJI's Fatima Hassan said: "We want to know what else is in the contract. We'd like full disclosure, and we would like to understand better. We are obviously going to do everything in our power to get access to this particular contract. We believe, in this particular situation, Johnson and Johnson has done a disservice to South Africa."

Hassan said they wanted to know the exact amounts exported. 

Johnson and Johnson must come clean and be open about this. We believe we have been put in a perilous position.

She accused the company of forcing "a waiver of sovereignty" to export vaccines filled and finished in the Eastern Cape.

According to the New York Times, the contract with J&J prevents South Africa from imposing export bans on the vaccines.   

Hassan called for more transparency from the government and pharmaceutical companies regarding the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines. 

She said they wanted to see not only the J&J contract, but also the contract with Pfizer.  

READ | Covid-19: NCCC to discuss making vaccine available for all over-18s sooner

"We believe that millions of vaccines left our country and Africa when millions of people needed them the most. We would describe this as the most vile situation, and I really believe that people in Africa and South Africa were wronged."

Health department spokesperson Popo Maja told News24 they had to abide by confidentiality clauses.

"Confidentiality clauses have legal implications and, if they have to be amended, it has to be on the agreement of the two parties. We have to abide by their confidentiality clauses."

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