Members of Parliament and Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that they were dismayed by what they called the “onerous” terms put forward by vaccine manufacturers.
Mkhize told Parliament’s Health committee that Johnson & Johnson’s terms before the company released 20 million doses were unfortunate.
He said that other manufacturers’ terms like Pfizer’s risked handing over the country’s assets to the company.
Mkhize gave Parliament an update on the vaccine rollout and the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson trial.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that Johnson & Johnson wanted a special acknowledgment and a letter from the Minister of Trade and Industry about its investments in local Aspen Pharmaceuticals before it signed off on the 20 million doses.
He said that other manufacturers’ terms, like Pfizer’s, risked the country’s sovereignty.
“This obligation to have a determination at the sole discretion of the manufacturer does not bind South Africa. As the government, we found ourselves in a precarious position of having to choose between our saving our citizen’s lives and risk putting the country’s assets into private companies hands.”
Like Mkhize, committee member Marie Sukers said that she was also taken aback by the terms.
“Because I think a lot of us here are in dismay with the terms being demanded. I think it proves the point that politicians and business, it is a difficult combination,” she said.
Mkhize has also welcomed an additional 10 million doses from Pfizer taking their total to 30 million doses.