South Africa will pay $5.25 per dose for 1.5 million shots of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII), a senior official said on Thursday, more than some wealthier countries are paying.
The health department’s Deputy Director-General Anban Pillay told Reuters that SII’s price was based on South Africa’s status as an upper-middle-income country under a World Bank classification.
The price is higher than the $3 a dose that South Africa and other countries on the continent are due to pay for the same vaccine under an African Union (AU) arrangement, and the €2.5 ($3.03) per dose European Union countries have agreed to pay.
South Africa is hosting clinical trials of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University, raising questions about the higher price it will be paying. Its public finances were already under huge strain before the pandemic and have deteriorated markedly since it recorded its first Covid-19 case in March 2020.
The SII, one of several manufacturers making the AstraZeneca vaccine, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.
AstraZeneca said it could not confirm pricing details and declined to comment further.
The SII doses are intended for South Africa’s frontline healthcare workers, who have been sorely stretched during a second wave of infections driven by a more infectious virus variant called 501Y.V2.
They are due to start arriving before the end of the month, before the AU doses, which become available from March, and shots secured via the COVAX Facility, a global distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization.
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