RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 18: A protester ret
Sibanye mining community. (Photo by Dino Lloyd/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
  • Mining company Sibanye says it would be able to vaccinate about 18,000 people a day, if it were allowed.
  • Several large employers say they have the capability to roll out vaccines effectively, if allowed to purchase shots privately, though many don't want to talk publicly about the details.
  • Sibanye's board has approved a commitment of R200 million to fund the government’s vaccine programme through the Solidarity Fund.
  • But it would also like to buy vaccines directly, to have its employees and their dependents vaccinated.
  •  For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Mining company Sibanye-Stillwater would be able to vaccinate approximately 18,000 people per day, covering its entire workforce in a week, if only it were allowed to play a more significant role in the government’s vaccine rollout plan, it says.

Currently, private companies are unable to procure and dispense Covid-19 vaccines independently, and across the globe, many governments are the sole custodians of the vaccines.

Many large employers in South Africa – with sophisticated in-house health systems – say they have everything in place to roll out fast and effective vaccine projects, if they were allowed, though many do not want to talk about the details, citing the importance of a good relationship with the government.

“[W]e should be able to vaccinate approximately 18,000 people per day, enabling us to cover our entire workforce within a week and extend the same benefit to their families and many people in our doorstep communities in a relatively short period," James Wellsted, senior vice president for investor relations at Sibanye, told Business Insider South Africa

The company isn’t actively speaking to vaccine manufacturers about procuring Covid-19 shots it could independently distribute and administer; it supports the government in its vaccine rollout plans and continues to be engaged with the government through B4SA, it says.

It has made provision for an additional 250,000 people, to cover the families of employees as well as "doorstep communities", in the areas where it operates.

The company has had board approval to commit R200 million, with conditions, in direct and indirect funding to the government’s vaccine rollout effort.

As part of the conditions, the direct monetary contribution will be administered through the Solidarity Fund to ensure effective application, the company said.

But where it directly funds vaccine doses, it would like those allocated to its employees and their dependents first, preferably administered through its own healthcare facilities.

It also requires full transparency on the commercial arrangements for vaccine procurement by the government as well as the management of logistical resources

Some of Sibanye’s resources that have been made available to assist the government include 44 healthcare facilities.

The government’s vaccine rollout plan has been widely criticised for its slow pace. Last month, the health department admitted that it would miss its initial target to inoculate 40 million people by the end of the year. It set a new target, committing to reach herd immunity by the end of February 2022.

“We have proven the capability and capacity of our systems to deliver health care services to our workforce and communities through the Covid-19 lockdown and subsequent return to work, which has been effectively managed,” Wellsted said.

Receive a daily news update on your cellphone. Or get the best of our site emailed to you

Go to the Business Insider front page for more stories.