Pfizer calls on South African ministers to sign vaccine pact

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Pfizer calls on South African ministers to sign vaccine pact


Photographer: Nathan Laine / Bloomberg

Pfizer Inc. is demanding that South Africa’s health and finance ministers personally sign a Covid-19 vaccine supply agreement so that it is indemnified from any claims made against it in the country regarding the shooting.

The request is contained in a March 24 letter from South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize to his finance counterpart Tito Mboweni, seen by Bloomberg and confirmed by the National Treasury. Pfizer was not satisfied with assurances that the signature of the country’s chief health officer was sufficient to secure compensation, Mkhize said.

The demand threatens to further delay the rollout of South Africa’s immunization program, which lags behind that of its peers in emerging markets and a number of African countries, and increases pressure on the government . The agreement covers the supply of 20 million doses of the vaccine manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech SE.

The ministerial signatures will give Pfizer “assurance that the terms of the indemnity clause are recognized by the government and, as such, any liability that may be established will be covered by the fiscus,” Mkhize wrote. “You will no doubt agree with me that there is increasing pressure and that we can no longer publicly justify further delays. “
The Mkhize spokeswoman declined to comment. The National Treasury said in a response to a question that talks on signing the agreements were ongoing and confirmed receipt of the letter.

“We are in talks with the South African government to provide access to the vaccine,” Pfizer said in response to questions. “These discussions are confidential and we have nothing to announce at the moment.”

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