A nurse at Tygerberg Hospital inoculates a frontline healthcare worker with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)
A nurse at Tygerberg Hospital inoculates a frontline healthcare worker with the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA)

Concerns over limited vaccines as Covid-19 anniversary nears for Western Cape

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Mar 8, 2021

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Cape Town – The Western Cape legislature is concerned the limited available doses of vaccines could lead to the reprioritisation of vaccine recipients in the province.

Covid-19 oversight committee chairperson Mireille Wenger (DA) said: “This is a position in which we should not find ourselves.

“A key lesson from the second wave is that it is critical to pay attention to the early warning signs of an upswing in infections and mortality rates, along with predetermined plans by governments to mitigate the impacts of a resurgence.”

The provincial government has indicated that reprioritisation at facilities can take place on the basis of factors such as age, comorbidities, exposure risk, and the nature of the position of the healthcare worker’s setting within the facility itself.

Head of Health Dr Keith Cloete said: “Limited doses of the J&J (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine will be arriving in four tranches over eight weeks.

He said: “The first tranche, received on February 17, contained 13 160 doses for private and public sectors. It is anticipated that this will cover 40% of healthcare workers over the eight-week period.

“If we assume there’s an adequate supply of effective vaccine, then we need to sequence and prioritise, as we are unlikely to receive all stock in one tranche.”

Asked about the reliability of the vaccine supply during Thursday night’s virtual briefing with the National Press Club, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said: “The vaccine supply globally is subject to many forces, including the rate at which companies are able to produce supplies for the rest of the world.

“Low- and middle-income countries such as South Africa are competing against some of the major powers who have put a lot of resources to secure their vaccines ahead of everyone else, and this will affect the rate at which we receive the vaccines.”

Meanwhile, as the province looks ahead to the anniversary on Thursday of the first case of Covid-19 in the Western Cape, Premier Alan Winde said: “The past year has given us deep grief, but it also gave us hope.

“On Thursday, we will mark the anniversary of the first Covid-19 case in the Western Cape. As we mark these sombre anniversaries, we must not lose sight of the fact that Covid-19 is still with us. In the Western Cape, over 1 000 people are currently still in hospital, and we have lost 11 258 lives.”

EFF provincial chairperson Melikhaya Xego said: “To have an anniversary of Covid-19 sounds more like a celebration. This pandemic can surely not be celebrated. As EFF, we are in deep mourning with all South Africans and specifically the people of the Western Cape of the devastating consequences of the Covid-19 virus.

“The politicisation of this pandemic led to massive uncertainty. A pandemic like this needs to be driven by health professionals and scientific experts at all times. No politician will provide information that will dent the image of their political formations.”

Cape Argus

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