Business to use its capacity to boost vaccination drive, fast-track economy
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JOHANNESBURG - THE BUSINESS sector yesterday vowed to assist the government in quickly ramping up the country’s vaccination capacity in a bid to fast-track economic recovery.
At the launch of a private/public partnership to provide R1.35 billion Covid-19 vaccine relief for uninsured workers who do not have medical aid cover, business said it had the means to ramp-up vaccination capacity.
“We will bring 13 private sites online, capable of administering 3 500 vaccines per day, increasing to nearly 40 sites by the end of this week, and nearly 80 sites by the end of next week, by which time we should have capacity of over 22 000 vaccinations per day,” said Martin Kingston, Business for South Africa (B4SA) chairperson of the steering committee.
The Compensation Fund partnered with mutual assurance companies Rand Mutual Assurance and The Federated Employers Mutual Assurance to contribute towards funding vaccination costs for uninsured workers.
The funding is anticipated to contribute towards the vaccinations under Phase 2 of an estimated 3 million workers of the estimated 10 million uninsured workers.
“As a collective, we have heeded the call by President Cyril Ramaphosa for organisations to help finance and facilitate the roll-out of vaccines in South Africa and beyond,” said Vuyo Mafata, Commissioner of the Compensation Fund.
The government’s Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme to inoculate 5.4 million citizens 60 years and above kicked off yesterday amid the prospect of a third wave.
Scientists have projected that at least 40 million people need to be vaccinated in South Africa to ensure that the population has the immunity it needs to fight the Covid-19 virus.
B4SA said this marked a critical turning point in the 14-month economically depressing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the business sector was mobilising vaccination sites throughout the country in support of the government’s efforts.
“Over the coming days and weeks, we will steadily and systematically open many more vaccination sites,” Kingston said.
Since last year, business has worked with the National Department of Health and the Solidarity Fund to create the capacity to vaccinate the nation. Phase 2 of the vaccination will be run parallel to the Phase 1 programme to complete inoculating health-care workers.
Business Leadership SA (BLSA) urged the government to protect the economy and jobs by not banning travel, alcohol and cigarettes sales while monitoring health outcomes.
BLSA chief executive Busi Mavuso said their members were ready to support the government in finding a balance between policy reactions to meet health objectives without inflicting unnecessary damage to the economy.
Mavuso said the economic recovery that had slowly begun to emerge over the last few months was at risk if the government made the wrong choices now.
“My call is for sense to prevail as we consider policies to limit the impact of the third wave,” Mavuso said.
“Bans, curfews and shutdowns are hugely damaging and have questionable impact on public health. Let us get the balance right.”
Meanwhile, the Cotton On Group, one of South Africa’s popular retailers and one of the world’s largest global fashion brands, has announced a oneyear global partnership with the UN Children’s Emergency Fund to help deliver 1 million vaccines as part of the Covax response.