South Africa’s medical aid schemes could help fund COVID-19 vaccine shots for those who do not have medical insurance, according to a Bloomberg report on Tuesday.
Stavros Nicolaou, head of the Health Workgroup for business lobby group B4SA, said talks are underway between the schemes, government and business organisations.
Contribution to the unfunded
“We are looking at a model of some cover for uncovered patients. For every funded person, there will be a contribution to the unfunded,” Nicolaou said.
Large businesses, such as mining companies, could also contribute funds so that their workers are able to get vaccine shots, he added.
Nicolaou’s comments are in line with Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize’s media briefing on South Africa’s COVID-10 vaccine strategy on Sunday.
Mkhize said, “We have embarked on public-private partnerships with very good outcomes and we have approached medical aids to be part of the co-financing. Business has also been engaged, particularly through Business Unity South Africa (BUSA).
“Therefore, the total financing arrangement will include medical schemes, business and government with an arrangement made with Solidarity Fund to provide a platform for collection of funds and for expedited and controlled procurement processes.”
Vaccines ‘as early as February’
South Africa will get vaccines for 10 percent of the population via the COVAX distribution scheme in the second quarter of this year.
However, bilateral talks with various pharmaceutical companies are underway to get more vaccines as early as February, Mkhize added.
“Having secured for 10 percent of the population, we have embarked on other efforts to get the rest of the 57 percent of the population to be targeted by the end of 2021 but, more importantly we are making efforts to obtain vaccines much earlier, hopefully as early as February 2021,” he said.
The country hopes to vaccinate 67 percent of the population by the end of 2021 to achieve herd immunity.
The government will give priority to frontline healthcare workers, essential workers, persons in congregated settings, people older than 60 years old and those younger than 18 years old who have co-morbidities.