AstraZeneca doses in the UK.
(Getty)
  • eSwatini says it has put aside 200 million emalangeni for coronavirus vaccinations, and it hopes to reach 100% of its population.
  • That would make for vaccines fully administered at around R200 per person, for the country of 1.3 million people, after it gets enough for one fifth of its population for free.
  • Pfizer reportedly offered South Africa cut-price deal on vaccines, which would come to about R300 per person. 
  • Like SA, eSwatini does not know where most of its vaccine doses will be coming from, yet.
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eSwatini is budgeting around R200 per person to vaccinate its population against Covid-19, as various countries – including South Africa – struggle to secure supplies of vaccines at an affordable price.

The country's principal secretary in the health ministry, Simon Zwane, told Reuters that it had had earmarked 200 million emalangeni for the rollout of vaccines to all of its 1.3 million people. It hopes to secure enough vaccines for 20% of its population for free from the Covax initiative. That makes for a per-person cost, after transport and final delivery, of around R200 per person.

Pfizer and partner BioNTech reportedly offered South Africa a discount deal on its coronavirus vaccine that would come to R300 per person, but far cheaper vaccines are available, in theory.

See also | SA may have been offered a 30% discount on the Pfizer vaccine – but that’s still expensive

The exact prices of various vaccines are considered highly confidential, as are negotiations between countries and suppliers, but numbers apparently disclosed by accident in Belgium showed the European Union would pay as little as R32 per dose for the AstraZeneca vaccine that just started rolling out in the UK.

That is the vaccine eSwatini is primarily interested in, though it does not yet know how it will be procuring any of the available vaccines.

See also | Countries with better vaccine plans than SA now include Morocco, Panama and Lebanon

South Africa too has spoken of its budget for vaccines, and said it is in talks with a number of suppliers, but does not yet have a clear path to announce on actually procuring doses for more than 10% of the population.

Both deaths and detected new infections have spiked dramatically in the kingdom since mid December, when it started to report 150 new cases almost every day, a number it never reached during its first wave in mid 2020. 

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