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We can’t take the risk of giving state full control of vaccine roll-out given it’s dismal record

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine should not be done by the government or the Department of Health, given their dismal record of how they have run parastatals such as SAA and Eskom, says the writer. Picture: Reuters.

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine should not be done by the government or the Department of Health, given their dismal record of how they have run parastatals such as SAA and Eskom, says the writer. Picture: Reuters.

Published Feb 8, 2021

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By Dr Ellapen Rapiti

The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine should not be done by the government or the Department of Health, given their dismal record of how they have run parastatals such as SAA and Eskom.

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Look at the evidence in which the Zondo commission, the corruption in our social services and communication ministries, and the way the provincial health MEC treated mentally ill patients.

With the lack of accountability, we cannot entrust our lives to the government when it comes to the storage, transport, distribution and and administration of a vaccine.

The vaccine rollout should be done by a non-governmental body that is overseen by people, who are au fait with the intricacies related to vaccine, especially the Covid-19 vaccine, because we are dealing with a deadly virus, that has held the world’s lives and economies hostage.

One major slip up in the cold-chain transport/storage can severely impact on the efficiency of the vaccine and render people vulnerable for failure from protection from the virus.

Failure because of negligence will be so easily blamed on the manufacturers of the vaccines and affect their reputation. Such a scenario will also give the anti-vaxxers a field day to condemn the use of the vaccine, which is our only hope to come out of our unending isolation and save our economy, which is in the doldrums.

The other issue of concern is that once the vaccine lands on our soil from overseas, we have no guarantee the underworld and illicit trade will not get hold of it and sell it on the blackmarket. If the SANDF cannot protect weapons in their own depots, can we expect them to protect vaccines?

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If the vaccines are sold illegally, there will be no safety controls on the storage and transport of the vaccine. A slight deviation from the storage and transport requirements will render the vaccines useless. The other danger is the vaccine containers can be filled with fake solutions to make a killing by selling it on the streets.

South Africans cannot take the risk of giving the state full control of the roll-out when they lack a reliable capacity to control of monitoring of the vaccine. The government’s terrible 25-year track record to contain corruption should be ample evidence they should not get directly involved in the vaccine roll out.

The drug companies like Pfizer and Moderna, who are the manufacturers of the vaccine, should be entrusted with the responsibility to ensure the correct protocols are followed so that the vaccine is guaranteed to offer the desired protection every citizen in this country should get to feel safe. If these vaccines fail because of our negligence, the manufacturers will exercise their right not to supply their vaccines to our country in the future to protect their reputation.

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If needs be, we should engage the services of respected judges to be part of the process to ensure proper protocols are followed and there is total accountability when things go wrong. Anyone guilty of breaking the law, should be imprisoned for culpable homicide.

There should be no place for tenderpreneurs. The roll-out should not be seen as an opportunity to make a few people rich out of people’s pain, anguish and misery. The last 25 years have shown us that many of our ministers abused their offices to enrich themselves and let down the citizens of this country to trust them.

Dr Ellapen Rapiti is a health-care practitioner, specialising as a family physician.

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