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Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo will chair the no-fault compensation fund, as the country gears up for the mass COVID-19 vaccine rollout programme.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, made the announcement in Parliament on Wednesday.

Mkhize believes that the fund will give the country an opportunity to implement the vaccine adverse events compensation scheme at the same time South Africa is expected to vaccinate its citizens next week.

He said this guarantees that every citizen’s rights are fully protected during the inoculation process and that there is sufficient recourse should those vaccinated experience damages.

In the structure of the fund, Mkhize said there has been no undertaking by any manufacturers to contribute, and this will mainly be a government-funded exercise.

“Retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo has graciously agreed to assist us with the mammoth task of chairing the first of its kind fund,” said Mkhize.

He said Judge Ngcobo’s extensive experience as a jurist, including having headed the highest court in the land – the Constitutional Court  – and his recent experience in health-related complexities, such as the Health Market Inquiry chair, makes him an ideal candidate.

“He will able to oversee all claims and uphold the principles of fairness, transparency, equity and constitutional rights of our citizens,” said Mkhize.

The Minister said the fund is another indication of government’s preparedness that whilst the State has fully indemnified manufacturers against any third party claims, it also has sufficient mechanisms to protect citizens.

According to Mkhize, the Health Department has procured 31 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

“An initial agreement for 11 million vaccines was signed and the initial purchase price was paid.”

He said the agreement included an option for the department to secure an additional 20 million vaccines.

While the conditions of the first agreement have been met, the multinational corporation put a precondition for no-fault compensation regulations to be published by 30 April 2021 for their second agreement. 

“This condition has also been made by Pfizer as well,” Mkhize said.

The Minister said the National Coronavirus Command (NCCC) has since accepted the recommendation for the draft regulations to be published for public comments in relations to the no-fault compensation fund.

“This will take a period of about five days and we recognise that this period is shorter than the usual processes that has been used for public consultation that is followed by Parliament.”

In the meantime, Mkhize said public comments will be processed to formally gazette the final regulations by 22 April 2021.

“We intend for the no-fault compensation fund to be independent, and have the credibility and skill that is required.”

Meanwhile, South Africa has suspended the rollout of the J&J COVID-19 vaccine as a precautionary measure and a final decision is expected soon.

This comes after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) paused the rollout of the vaccine following reports of a rare clotting condition in six people out of 6.8 million doses administered. 


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