Some three weeks ago, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told parliament that South Africa was already at an advanced stage of talks with the African Union (AU) to sell the soon to expire one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine bought from the Serum Institute of India earlier this year.
Up to date, there is still no confirmation nor update whether South Africa has reached the conclusion with the AU and or when the country will be shipping out the vaccines.
Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has lambasted the government for slow progress in vaccination roll-out.
South Africa is yet to kick start its vaccination roll-out with the current Johnson and Johnson vaccination programme of healthcare workers forming part of an extended study of the human trials around the globe.
Steenhuisen has called on the government to immediately begin the roll-out of the one million doses to elderly and vulnerable citizens with co-morbidities.
“Holding out for a buyer on the African continent who is prepared to pay the same inflated amount as we did would be a kick in the teeth of every South African desperately looking for protection from the virus,” Steenhuisen said.
He said that there is now broad scientific consensus that the vaccine was not only safe but also largely effective.
“With the elderly and those with co-morbidities facing the daunting prospect of a third wave of Covid-19 with no protection as we head into winter, it would be criminal to let these vaccines go to waste.”
Steenhuisen said that the snail’s pace at which the government was going is made worse by the prices that South Africans paid for the stored vaccines.
“We have R75 million worth of vaccines lying in a warehouse – vaccines for which we overpaid five times and which the president went to collect from the airport amid much fanfare and media coverage,” explained Steenhuisen.