A health worker shows a vial of Covishield, a Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, as she prepares to start vaccination against the coronavirus disease. File picture: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
A health worker shows a vial of Covishield, a Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India, as she prepares to start vaccination against the coronavirus disease. File picture: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Government has a proper Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan in place, insists Williams

By Siviwe Feketha Time of article published Feb 1, 2021

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Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration has insisted that it has plans in place for the successful roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine in the coming months, despite it being dragged to court over a lack of transparency.

This comes as South Africa is set to receive the first consignment of Covid-19 vaccines from India today.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced last week that one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India would leave India for South Africa and would be used to kick off the first phase of the vaccination process, which is primarily targeted at the country’s front-line health workers.

Around 500 000 more doses are expected to be received from the same institute later in February.

The DA, however, has been critical over the lack of transparency by the government around the Covid-19 roll-out plan.

On Friday, the official opposition approached the Western Cape High Court in a bid to force President Ramaphosa’s administration to develop and table a comprehensive roll-out plan for the vaccination process to enable opposition parties to hold it accountable should failures occur.

Other parties, including the EFF, have warned that the lack of transparency around the vaccine roll-out could lead to the corruption that took place when Covid-19 relief funds were looted last year.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams said there was a detailed plan on the roll-out of the vaccines by the national government but that it was yet to be finalised and released for the public through the Department of Health.

“All the relevant parties and the provinces are aware and all the processes are aligned, but I think for the benefit of South Africans in general there will be a comprehensive briefing. But all provinces know exactly what is going to happen,” Williams said.

At the weekend, Mkhize had indicated that no vaccination would take place this week as the vaccine would be placed in storage and be subjected to various quality assurance processes, including a laboratory product confirmation, before the doses were divided up for distribution to various provinces.

Williams pointed out that the process could take up to 14 days and that Mkhize would hold a comprehensive briefing during this period.

She said the national government had already decided how many quantities would be delivered to each province which warehouses would be used across South Africa to keep the vaccines, adding that provincial governments already had plans of how they would be rolling out the vaccination process.

“It is just the public that still has to be briefed. The government understands that South Africans must be aware and they would want to know where they are supposed to be vaccinated and how,” she said.

But the DA’s court application is planning to push the government to reveal more about the process, including the exact price of all the vaccines procured by the government as well as the list of all those who would benefit through procurement in the roll-out process.

The national government is planning to vaccinate around 40 million people or 67% of the population by the end of the year to help build herd immunity from the virus, which has infected over 1.4 million South Africans and killed around 44 000.

Political Bureau

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