Johannesburg - The slow pace of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is a concern and the government should do everything it can to facilitate mass inoculation, the South African Medical Association (Sama) said on Friday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government has come under heavy criticism for the snail’s pace of the exercise in a country with by far the highest number of Covid-19 cases in Africa at more than 1.5 million.
Sama chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee said South Africa needed to be vaccinating about one million people a month but at the current rate that would not happen.
“We must have a proper vaccination plan in place to meet the demand to ensure we vaccinate as many people as possible in the shortest possible time frames,” she said.
During his latest national address on the pandemic on Tuesday, Ramaphosa said the first phase of the vaccination programme, which commenced in the middle of February and was targeted at health workers, had seen more than 250 000 receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
He said South Africa had secured 11 million doses of the vaccine known to be effective against the dominant Covid-19 variants in the country. It was finalising an agreement with Johnson & Johnson for a further 20 million doses and another one for for 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which requires two doses per person.
Together, Ramaphosa said, this supply of vaccines would provide enough doses to vaccinate 41 million people.
On Friday, Sama welcomed a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions announced by Ramaphosa on Tuesday, but urged South Africans to remain vigilant and to continue practising proper sanitising and physical distancing in order to contain the spread of the virus which has killed nearly 53 000 people in the country.
African News Agency (ANA)