Political parties are keenly waiting the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, a shipment of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, scheduled to arrive in the country on Monday. Picture: Dado Ruvi/Reuters
Political parties are keenly waiting the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, a shipment of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, scheduled to arrive in the country on Monday. Picture: Dado Ruvi/Reuters

We will be monitoring rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, say political parties

By Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Jan 31, 2021

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Johannesburg - Political parties are keenly waiting the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, a shipment of 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, scheduled to arrive in the country on Monday.

The vaccines are earmarked for some 1.25 million frontline healthcare workers, Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize told South Africans, this week.

Mkhize said the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India, would leave India on Sunday, through Dubai, and arrive in South Africa on Monday.

However, Mkhize said that the vaccines would first have to go through strict quality assurance and stock control over a period of 10 to 14 days, before they are distributed across the country’s nine provinces.

The first doses of the vaccine are arriving at the time the South Africa is already battling a second wave.

The cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in the country on Saturday stood at 1 449 236 and the death toll at 43 951.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union’s (Nehawu) General Secretary Zola Saphetha welcomed Mkhize’s announcement of the arrival of the vaccines. “The vaccine arrives at a time when healthcare workers are losing their lives to the virus at an alarming rate. Last week, Nehawu lost 12 members in one week to the virus at the Edendale hospital, in Pietermaritzburg.

“Government needs to move with speed with the inoculation in order to avert the loss of more healthcare workers,” Saphetha said.

UDM leader Bantu Holomisa also welcomed the arrival of the 1.5 million doses of the vaccine, albeit he said, that this was not enough, as it would not be able to cover the country’s front-line healthcare workers.

“It’s welcomed, thanks to the noise made by the citizens of this country when it was said that this thing would be available in the second half or quarter of the year. I was one of the people who made noise then to say why have they been sitting on their laurels.

“So we welcome it although it’s a drop in the ocean, because if it’s 1.5 million doses divided by the two jabs, then it’s about 750 000, and it won’t even address the issue of frontline workers because they have to get the jab twice. So, it’s too little, but at least there is a start,” Holomisa said.

He further said it had been embarrassing to see other developing countries and even poorer countries than South Africa rolling out vaccines.

IFP MP Narend Singh said it is important for the distribution and rollout programme to be carried out effectively and efficiently. “There would’ve been no point in waiting for these much needed vaccines if they cannot be rolled out.

“We trust that the plans that have been spoken about by government in partnership with the private sector, pharmaceuticals, pharmacies and clinics, will bear fruit.

“We will be monitoring rollout of the vaccines because the success of the first batch of rollouts is going to indicate how the future rollout will go,” Singh said.

On Friday, DA leader John Steenhuisen filed court papers at the Western Cape High Court in a bid to obtain a declarator that the government’s conduct in procuring vaccines and its preparation for the rollout of the vaccines were in violation of several constitutional principles. “We asked the court to instruct the government to develop a comprehensive and coordinated vaccination rollout plan, and to deliver this plan no later than one month of the order.

“The failure to provide Covid-19 vaccines timeously when these vaccines are available is a violation of people’s rights, in terms of Section 27(1) of the Constitution, to have access to healthcare services, as well as a violation of government’s obligation in terms of Section 27(2) to take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to access healthcare,” Steenhuisen said.

Political Bureau

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