Oxford-AstraZeneca quotes Pretoria as $ 5.25 for each jab, while EU countries pay $ 2.16 for the same vaccine.
South Africa will buy doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from Oxford-AstraZeneca at a price 2.5 times the price of most European countries, the health ministry said Thursday.
The continent’s worst-hit country has ordered at least 1.5 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, due in January and February.
A senior health official told AFP news agency on Thursday that these doses would cost $ 5.25 each, nearly 2.5 times the amount paid by most European countries.
“The National Department of Health confirms that the price of $ 5.25 is the one quoted to us,” Deputy Director General of Health Anban Pillay said via text message, without explaining the price difference.
Members of the European Union (EU) will only pay 1.78 euros ($ 2.16) for the AstraZeneca shots, according to information leaked by a Belgian minister on Twitter last month.
Bilateral deals between wealthier governments and coronavirus vaccine makers have raised concerns about rising prices and lack of supply for low- and middle-income countries.
Last year, the World Health Organization warned of “vaccine nationalism” and “predatory pricing” once a successful injection has been found.
AstraZeneca France told AFP in November that its injections would be capped at 2.5 euros (about $ 3) per dose “to provide vaccines to the widest population, with as equitable access as possible”.
The pharmaceutical giant did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Ministry of Health’s quote.
The AstraZeneca vaccine order in South Africa is one of 20 million secure doses to be delivered in the first half of 2021.
The WHO-backed Covax facility is expected to provide injections to 10 percent of the population between April and June. Further vaccines will be supplied through the African Union and bilateral contracts with suppliers that have not yet been disclosed.
Opposition groups criticized South Africa’s vaccination strategy.
“Today’s reports indicate that … the government will have to spend double what some other countries pay for their vaccines,” the main democratic opposition, the Democratic Alliance said Thursday, accusing poor planning and delayed negotiations. .
The Solidarity union and prominent rights group AfriForum have jointly announced their intention to launch a legal battle against the government for lack of transparency.
“The government’s non-disclosure of information is further proof of why it cannot be given a monopoly over the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines,” AfriForum said in a statement Thursday. .
South Africa is grappling with a second wave of infections fueled by a new variant of the coronavirus deemed more infectious by scientists.
To date, the country has recorded more than 1.3 million cases and 38,800 deaths.
The government aims to vaccinate two-thirds of its population – around 40 million out of nearly 60 million people – to achieve collective immunity by the end of 2021.