Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said that the government would pull together all its resources to pay for the vaccine roll-out and associated costs.
These include the establishment of a no-fault compensation fund for people who suffer harmful side-effects from being inoculated.
This is at the insistence of vaccine manufacturers, who want to be indemnified from any claims.
Mboweni told a briefing after unveiling the 2021 budget on Wednesday that the battle to defeat the pandemic was one of life or death.
The budget provides R9 billion for rolling out the free vaccination campaign over the next three years, on top of R1.3 billion already allocated.
But because there is no certainty of what the final costs will be, there’s a further R9 billion that could be drawn from the contingency reserve that is used for emergencies.
Finance Minister Mboweni: “We are having to, for example, set up a fund that these pharmaceutical companies are insisting on – a no-liability type fund, in case something wrong happens.”
Mboweni said that this would be dealt with by himself, with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Treasury, and the Department of Health.
“The struggle against COVID-19 is a real struggle – a life and death struggle – and therefore to the extent possible, should a third or fourth wave emerge, we’ll have to pull the resources of the state together to fight this new enemy. And there’s no time for small politics here or there – it is a war situation.”
Treasury has stressed the importance of a smooth vaccine roll-out, with no stops, and starts to break the cycle of a surge in infections and lockdowns to curb them.
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