COVID-19 procurement details not intended to be kept confidential: Phaahla

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Health Minister Joe Phaahla says his department never intended to keep the details of the COVID-19 vaccine procurement secret, but it was the nature of the pharmaceutical business.

This comes after the High Court in Pretoria ordered the department to hand over copies of all its COVID-19 vaccine procurement contracts, negotiations and agreements to a non-governmental organisation, Health Justice Initiative.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 15th BRICS Summit, currently taking place in Sandton, north of Johannesburg, Phaahla says they are seeking legal advice.

“It was never our intention to hide the information about the cost of the vaccine, but it’s in the nature of contracts – non-disclosure agreements – because there’s a lot of business information between the manufacturers, the suppliers. The reason why we had to agree to that is because of the nature of the contract in order for us to have access to those vaccines. Even now, with this court ruling, we have to be guided by our legal advisers as to what is the best way forward – and also involve the other partners. A contract is between two entities,” he says.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health will partner with the BRICS Business Council, the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Africa Health Business in a Leaders’ Dialogue on Pandemic Preparedness, Prevention and Response for Health Security.