Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Sandile Ngcobo during his last session as Chief Justice at Contitutional Hill on August 11, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images / The Times / Daniel Born)
Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo will head the no-fault compensation fund required by manufacturers of Covid-19 vaccines. But the announcement of Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize in Parliament did not come without ministerial searches on the “difficult” and “sometimes unreasonable” conditionalities of vaccine manufacturers.
The government intends to release the finalized regulations for a no-fault compensation fund, or compensation system for vaccine-related adverse events, by April 22, well ahead of the deadline set for late April. by Covid-19 vaccine makers Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.
A no-fault compensation fund – a standard condition, also accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO) – would effectively compensate vaccine manufacturers, but still allow anyone affected by Covid-19 vaccines to claim compensation . This is why this fund would be “mainly financed by the government”, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize told MPs on Wednesday.
“We want the no-fault compensation fund to be independent, credible and competent. We have finalized the process to identify an experienced retired judge to chair this program, ”said Mkhize before announcing retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo as chairman of the fund.
“We believe that his extensive experience as a jurist, including having headed our country’s highest court, the Constitutional Court, and his recent experience with the complexities of health as chairman of the Market Investigation of health make him an ideal candidate to oversee all claims. and the process followed by the NFC (No-fault Compensation) fund respects the principle of justice, transparency, fairness and protects the constitutional rights of all our citizens. “
But questions need to be asked about the role of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) in all of this and the continued blurring of executive decision-making and governance.
Officially presented as a Cabinet committee, the NCCC has no decision-making power. Only the Cabinet has this executive power, in accordance with the Constitution. Still, the minister told MPs: “The NCCC accepted the recommendation to release the draft no-fault compensation fund regulations for public comment.”
Once these draft regulations are published – no date has been communicated – five days are reserved for public comments, which the government intends to deal with as they arise “so that we are able to officially publish the final regulations of here on April 22 ”.
The government has been talking about a no-fault compensation fund for at least three months.
“The government will also establish a no-fault compensation fund to cover claims in the unlikely event of serious vaccine-related injuries, the benefits of which will be announced in due course, ”said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in his February 24 budget speech.
TThis mechanism appeared again during Mkhize’s visit to the Gauteng vaccination sites on Thursday April 8. But Wednesday’s announcement in parliament was the first indication of concrete action taken. “We accepted that this is a good proposal,” Mkhize said.
The decisive role of the NCCC, not the Cabinet, in governance issues such as the Covid-19 vaccine no-fault compensation fund was an emotional moment during Wednesday’s ministerial meeting at the Parliament’s health committee.
Another of those moments were Mkhize’s statements about “difficult and sometimes unreasonable conditions”. He blamed the COVID-19 vaccination delays in South Africa on these “onerous”, non-disclosure, non-delivery penalties and non-refundable deposits.
What, in particular, seemed to have turned the government aside – Mkhize said to be “taken aback” – was J&J’s request for a letter of support from Trade and Industry for local investment in the Eastern Cape.
The request came after the carefully orchestrated photoshoot when President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the Aspen vaccine plant in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro on March 29 to announce the purchase of 20 million additional J&J vaccines.
“J&J has now told us that if we don’t give them this letter, we are making their world leaders nervous and, for them, we have not shown our political will to support them.”
Such letters of support are standard international business practice, but Mkhize has used it to deflect criticism of South Africa’s late and slow vaccine rollout.
“I mention this (letter of request)… to illustrate some of the difficult and sometimes unreasonable terms or conditions we have had to navigate. I can assure you that we did not sleep at work.
Less political and more concrete announcements made to the Parliamentary Health Committee concerned the price of the vaccines – $ 10 per dose for J&J and Pfizer vaccines – and the delivery of vaccines with confirmation that Pfizer would deliver 1,937,520 doses in May and 2,547 090 in June, while J&J would issue 1.1. million doses in the last week of April.
Mkhize, alongside his senior departmental officials, confirmed that no adverse effects had yet been reported during J&J vaccinations of healthcare workers.
Tuesday evening a Temporary suspension J&J vaccinations was announced following the Action of the United States Food and Drug Administration on possible blood clots.
“We’re pretty confident in the effectiveness of the J&J vaccines… The president and I have taken this vaccine,” said Mkhize, who previously referred to the Covid-19 inoculation program as “a growing momentum. It will be deployed quite effectively in the coming weeks ”.
Most of the details of the vaccination program are in the public domain since Mkhize’s briefing in parliament on March 30, when it emerged that vaccinations would focus from May 17 to November on those over 60 and then over 60. 40-year-olds and workers in high-risk settings. .
But on Wednesday, that plan appeared to have reverted to priority essential worker groups, signaling the extent of lobbying behind the scenes. These officially identified essential workers include police, soldiers and traffic officers, teachers, social workers, home affairs personnel and municipal employees. Also included on this list of essential workers are traditional healers, religious leaders and traditional leaders.
The goal was to reach 250,000 to 300,000 vaccinations per day by September on the 3,357 vaccination sites proposed, according to the information documentation of the national Ministry of Health to parliamentarians.
As of Tuesday, April 13, a total of 291,244 health workers had been vaccinated in South Africa. The generally slow pace of vaccinations and the cessation of vaccinations over the weekend, which MPs had raised as a concern, were officially blamed on fluctuations in the vaccine supply. DM
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This notice was published: 2021-04-14 12:02:42