Home South African ’Caught napping’: Union slams delay in procuring vaccine

’Caught napping’: Union slams delay in procuring vaccine

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Nehawu says the delay in starting negotiations with drug manufacturers, as well as participating in the Covax facility, means that South Africa will now have to wait for availability while other countries have already begun their vaccine roll-outs.

Picture: Jack Guez/AFP

THE COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan unveiled by Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize at the weekend was very scant on details and ambiguous on timelines, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said on Monday.

In a statement, Nehawu also concurred with umbrella labour federation Cosatu that the government was “caught napping while we are facing a deadly pandemic that has killed millions of people across the world” and should have started negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.

Mkhize said on Sunday night the government hoped to vaccinate about 67 percent of South Africa’s population by the end of 2021 against Covid-19, which has infected 1,100,748 people to date in the country.

This is by far the highest national tally in Africa, with Morocco a distant second at 443,146 cumulative coronavirus cases.

29,577 people have succumbed to the virus in South Africa, while 903,679 have recovered.

Nehawu said because of the delay in starting negotiations with drug manufacturers as well as participating in the Covax facility – a global initiative bringing together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual vaccines reach those in greatest need – South Africa would now have to wait for availability while other countries began their roll-outs.

“We call for more transparency on the matter of the vaccine and urge government to move with speed in the procurement processes,” the union urged.

“Furthermore, we demand that government engages both Russia and China on emergency procurement of their vaccines for health care workers whilst waiting for the Covax delivery.”

On Sunday, Mkhize said the government had secured doses through Covax which would ensure the immunisation of 10 percent of the population, adding that he expected “the processes will have delivered the vaccine by the beginning of the second quarter”.

The funds to pay the outstanding amount after a deposit made through the country’s Covid-19 Solidarity Fund, around R1.8 billion, had been allocated, the health minister added.

African News Agency (ANA)