An examination of South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine contracts involving multiple stakeholders has unveiled how the country was compelled to pay excessively for these vital vaccines.
In 2021, the Health Justice Initiative (HJI) submitted a request to the Department of Health for access to these contracts. However, the department declined, citing “confidential agreements” as the rationale. Subsequently, HJI pursued legal action in the Pretoria High Court, which ruled in its favor in August. Consequently, the department was obligated to disclose the contracts.
To date, four contracts and agreements have been provided by the department. After a thorough review, both HJI and a consortium of stakeholders identified evidence of “pharmaceutical coercion” and “aggressive tactics” by the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations. They also pointed out that the terms and conditions overwhelmingly favored multinational corporations. For instance, J&J charged South Africa $10 per dose, which was 15% more than what European Union countries paid.
These contracts additionally underscored the significant influence wielded by private-sector entities and the limited options available to governments when navigating a pandemic independently.
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