Lack of a clear vaccine plan is now becoming a full-blown crisis 

Please find attached a soundbite by Siviwe Gwarube MP.  

Following President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement last night, it has become clear that we have no concrete plan for the acquisition of this vaccine or government is concealing crucial information. Either way, this spells a looming crisis for South Africa.

Government has announced that 1.5 million doses -which equates to 750 000 people in real terms- will be delivered in the next several weeks. The Oxford Astrazeneca is obtained from the India Serum Institute. We are aware that this has been purchased by the South African government however many questions remain. These include:

  1. How much is South Africa paying this vaccine consignment?
  2. Where is this budget being obtained from?
  3. When does it arrive in the country?
  4. What logistical arrangements have been made for provincial allocation, for transportation and storage of the vaccine?
  5. Considering that the second dose of the vaccine will need to be administered shortly after the first one, what plan is in place to secure the second batch of the vaccine?

Additionally, the President has now announced that 20 million doses of a vaccine will be obtained during the course of this year. Once again this announcement was made without any details whatsoever. There are more questions than clarity. These include:

  1. Where are the 20 million doses of the vaccine being sourced from?
  2. Which vaccine is being used from which manufacturer? Does it require one or two doses?
  3. At what cost?
  4. Where is the budget being obtained from?
  5. What is happening with the local manufacturing capacity that South Africa has in companies that are operating here? Are those being used or are they being ignored?

It is unconscionable that government claims that they have been engaged in bilateral engagements for six months yet some of the most basic information is still unavailable. It is also completely inconsistent with our constitutional democracy, which is underpinned by Executive oversight and accountability, that we do not know how much government is spending on vaccines that have been ordered and from where they are being obtained.

If South Africa is to meet the target of vaccinating 64% of its population by year-end, then we need a sustainable supply of the vaccine which can be ordered in bulk and delivered as soon as possible. This is our only way out of this crisis which has plunged millions into poverty and pushed many more into the unemployment queues.