The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has slammed the Department of Health’s plan to issue a tender to store and distribute Covid-19 vaccines on 5 February, in a bid to speed up the country’s vaccination drive.
This after the department’s director-general, Sandile Buthelezi, told Reuters on Thursday that the qualifying bidders would be involved in phase two and phase three of the vaccination programme.
The EFF said since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, government should have known that should a vaccine be discovered, it would need storage and distribution capabilities. The party said this showed the “incapacity and incompetence” of the department and it also contradicted the government’s claims that it was ready to roll out vaccines.
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“Yet the ANC government, true to its utter incompetence, has done absolutely nothing to build internal capacity so as to responsibly ensure storage and smooth distribution of vaccines to all our people in urban and rural areas,” the EFF said in a statement on Thursday.
The Red Berets accused the department of outsourcing the responsibility that it should directly be in charge of, and called on Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize to come up with a “sustainable plan which will capacitate the already existing public healthcare facilities with the necessary instruments to administer the storage and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines”.
The department announced this week that the first batch of one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) would arrive in the country on Monday.
However, it would take 10 to 14 days for various processes to be completed before the vaccines are ready to be distributed across the country. About 1.25 million healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors will be the first group to receive the vaccine in phase one of the country’s vaccination programme.