We will procure our own vaccines: Alan Winde
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Cape Town - Premier Alan Winde is marching ahead with his plan to procure vaccines and has put a budget in place.
This is despite Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize telling the premier that there was no need for him to procure vaccines.
“I will not decommission our procurement plan. We have put a budget in place and the minister is aware of our plans,” said Winde.
Winde said he was unhappy with the progress the country has made on its vaccine roll-out, saying it was disappointing that the country is behind compared to other African countries.
“It is quite embarrassing that we stand here as a country where, quite frankly, Ivory Coast has vaccinated more people than we have. Nigeria, Uganda, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Egypt, Kenya, Botswana, Senegal, Ghana, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and Morocco are by far the leaders in vaccinating their people, and we have only had the first real shipment for roll-out, so of course we have to make sure we mitigate this risk,” he said.
Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier announced in March, when he tabled the Western Cape budget, that they had set aside a R2.17 billion “war chest” to defeat Covid-19 in the province.
Maynier explained the money would be used for procuring the vaccines, the rolling out the vaccine and the province’s response to a potential third wave.
About 30 000 Pfizer vaccines arrived in the province on Thursday and the launch of phase two of the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out was expected to begin on Monday.
The Sisonke trial also came to an end on Friday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa in his letter asked citizens to rally behind the country’s efforts to achieve herd immunity.
“I call on all South Africans to support this effort, and in particular civil society organisations that played a leading role during the HIV/Aids pandemic.
“Civil society has a critical role in mobilising international support for this cause, particularly through international cooperation with like-minded organisations in developed countries. This is an issue that calls for greater public advocacy and awareness-raising.
“As a nation, we must stand united in our effort to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines to save lives and proceed with the national recovery,” Ramaphosa said.
Safura Abdool Karim, a public health lawyer at Wits University, said the provincial government had no powers to procure vaccines.
“There is nothing that gives the government exclusive powers to procure Covid-19 vaccines, however, this far, pharmaceutical companies have only been willing to negotiate for large numbers of doses and this has consisted largely of selling directly to national governments.
“The exceptions have been the Covax facility and the African Medical Supply Platform who are private entities that have been able to buy vaccines. In short, the Western Cape government could buy its own vaccines and roll them out but this would be contingent upon finding a producer/manufacturer who would sell to them,” said Karim.
She added that the Western Cape will require SA Health Products Regulatory Authority's approval for any vaccine they roll out.
“This wouldn’t be a problem if they procured J&J or Pfizer but other vaccines may present a challenge on this front.”