News | Covid-19
While President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke about all the vaccines apparently about to hit SA’s shores, there was little detail on when it was all going to happen as everything still hinges on obtaining South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) go-ahead.
Calling it “Cyril’s great vaccine failure”, DA leader John Steenhuisen compared governments “rollout” plan to former president Thabo Mbeki’s antiretroviral roll-out.
“Benchmark countries such as Chile and Rwanda have achieved rates of 300 000 and 70 000 doses administered per day, respectively. Israel has already covered 55% of its population,” Steenhuisen said in a statement yesterday.
“The ‘roll-out’ they are crowing about is the expansion of the Johnson & Johnson trials, run by trial scientists around existing trial sites, using other countries’ leftover J&J trial vaccines. The J&J vaccine has not even been approved yet by Sahpra for general roll-out in South Africa.”
The Economic Freedom Fighters has also accused the government of lying, stating there was no verified vaccination plan.
“Any promise of 40 million vaccinations or a second phase of vaccinations in May 2021, is a self-admitted lie by this government. We must, as a nation, take to the streets and demand vaccination, in defence of life and the future of this country,” EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo said.
The SA Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said yesterday the Sisonke study reached 251 707 health workers, “marking its halfway point as it continues to move forward towards its target of vaccinating half a million of the country’s health workers”.
The study started in February in 18 sites in urban areas.
“Since then, it has expanded well beyond urban centres, reaching 85 sites across the country, with research staff spending many hours on the road to ensure the vaccine is distributed as equitably as is possible,” SAMRC noted.
“These resources and lessons learnt will significantly strengthen the government’s plans toscale up the national vaccination programme to 41 million people,” said Professor Linda Gail Bekker, the co-leader of the study.
However, the country was expected to be in its third wave of infections at the time, leaving healthcare workers having to manage infections instead, said Stellenbosch University epidemiologist Dr Jo Barnes.
Not only should the country secure vaccines, but they require other equipment such as medical trolleys, syringes, storage refrigerators and personal protective equipment to administer the jabs.
“If we have a third wave, depending on how high it is, the healthcare workers are going to look after people who are sick. Who is going to do the vaccinations then as doctors and medical persons are required on vaccination sites,” said Barnes.
More than 2 000 vaccination sites have been identified across the country as it gears up to roll out the long-awaited Covid-19vaccine in May.
In his national address on Tuesday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said vaccines would also be made available at doctors’ rooms, clinics and pharmacies.
The aim was to vaccinate at least 72 666 people per day between 17 May and 31 July, to meet the projected 5 449 980 vaccine jabs given to those aged over 60 years during the first part of the second phase, Dr Aquina Thulare, technical advisor to the health department, told the health portfolio committee this week.
But Barnes doubted things would unfold as planned.
“Those are projections and they are still working on the plan. They haven’t told the public exactly how many vaccinations they are going to have, who is going to staff that and training those who will administer them.
“I am very concerned about the lack of information they have shared with us.”
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