Litigation: Vaccine procurement not for state alone, court told

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) says there is no rule or condition that grants exclusive rights to the government to procure Covid-19 vaccines. This confirmation, observes Rapport, sunk the urgent application of Solidarity and AfriForum in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria) to challenge the alleged exclusivity. Judge Selby Baqwa struck the application from the roll for lack of urgency with costs. Solidarity and AfriForum had relied on media statements from Sahpra and an article in Business Day in which it was reported that Sahpra had authorised the use of the J&J vaccine on condition that only the government may procure it.

Suspended Health Minister Zweli Mkhize also announced earlier in the year that the procurement of vaccines would be centralised, although he later backtracked by saying government would not stand in the way of anybody wishing to procure vaccines. Solidarity argued in the application that the government was effectively centralizing procurement through the backdoor as all parties who try to procure vaccines were told manufacturers negotiate only with the government. However, Sahpra said in its opposing papers that no such rule or condition existed. Baqwa said the court could not rely on media reports when Sahpra has denied under oath that the condition exists. Solidarity said it plans to enroll the remaining parts of the application on the normal roll.

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