Please click here for a soundbite by the Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube MP.
The DA welcomes the announcement made by the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, during this morning’s urgent meeting of the portfolio committee of health that 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be acquired during the month of January from the Serum Institute of India.
This announcement comes at the back of the portfolio committee of health where the DA pushed hard for oversight over government’s tardy vaccine rollout strategy and undesirable time lines. We therefore welcome that headway has been made to prioritize frontline workers who require this vaccine as a matter of urgency as numbers of infections and fatalities rise.
However, as stated to Minister Mkhize this morning, acquisition of the vaccine is but the first step. There are many more elements to this process which need to be ironed out as soon as possible and the details of which to be made public.
- Transparency around the cost of the vaccine and whether larger volumes can be procured from the same institution considering India’s access to large numbers, especially considering the delays with the COVAX process;
- South Africa’s own sustainable and large scale vaccine acquisition that doesn’t simple give us access to small quantities but larger consignments so we can begin the process of saving lives and livelihoods;
- The logistical details on the storage, transportation and distribution of the first million doses of the vaccine;
- The identification process of the frontline workers who will be given this vaccine and the platforms that will be used to reach as many as possible in a matter of weeks;
- The integrity of the procurement, prioritization and distribution of the vaccine.
If we are to meet the 40 million South Africans that are to be vaccinated by year end, we need this process developed to precision. We cannot afford avoidable backlogs nor can we afford complacency. COVID-19 is wreaking havoc in South Africa and we need to move at pace with distributing life-saving vaccines to the hierarchy that has been internationally adopted.
While this is a great first step – which must be welcomed amid the crisis we find ourselves in – we must secure large scale vaccines so that the country can have some semblance of a recovery plan sooner rather than later. We will not meet the 67% target if we do not move at pace and play open cards with Parliament and the public. The DA will be relentless in its quest to hold government to account.