Flash Briefing: Covid-19 vaccines to arrive in SA this month; medical insurers to subsidise 14 million shots; AB Inbev; MTN

By Melani Nathan 

  • The Department of Health has announced that South Africa has secured Covid-19 vaccines for health workers, with one-million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine due to arrive this month and a further 500,000 in February. The vaccines will be supplied by the Serum Institute of India, which is producing the inoculations under license.
  • South African medical insurers will pay for a Covid-19 vaccine for as many people who don’t have coverage as they have members and expect the program to cost as much as R7bn. The subsidy will mean that, including medical aid members the companies will finance vaccines for 14 million adults in the country according to Ryan Noach, the chief executive officer of Discovery Health.
  • In neighbouring Zimbabwe, hospitals are reeling from a renewed surge in coronavirus cases, with a shortage of beds and equipment threatening to overwhelm the public health system. Authorities have imposed a 30-day strict lockdown, closing all the country’s land borders and shuttering gyms, restaurants and bars. The situation is worsened by shortages of medicines and intermittent strikes by nurses and doctors over pay and working conditions.
  • In business news; Anheuser-Busch InBev’s South African division will challenge the country’s ban on alcohol sales in court, saying the measure to contain Covid-19 is unconstitutional. SA Breweries supports a reduction in trading times, but sees a prohibition as “beyond what is reasonable and necessary,” according to a statement. The Johannesburg-based unit argues the decision restricts rights including freedom to trade and human dignity, it said.
  • One of today’s most viewed stocks on the JSE was MTN which announced its intentions to take ICASA to court over the structure of the spectrum auction. MTN objected to ICASA’s plan to allow smaller network operators to have their first pick of the spectrum being made available, leaving nothing for MTN to bid on in later rounds.

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