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Parliament Briefed on COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-Out

February 9, 2021

Department of Health

The health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, assured parliament last week that South Africa has the capacity to develop a vaccine but this will happen over a period of time.

The health minister briefed the portfolio committee on health on the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

The minister added that “expertise in the country do exist to manufacture our own vaccine, however, it is important to focus on building capacity”.

In a statement, the committee voiced its concerns about the strategy including tendering processes, storage and distribution of the vaccines and medical waste disposal.

It told Dr Mkhize that, from updates received from the provincial departments of health recently on their preparedness to implement their vaccines rollout strategies, it has “observed that the provinces are nowhere near ready to commence with their vaccination programmes”.

In response, the minister indicated that the health department will meet with provinces to assess and discuss the state of readiness and strengthen capacity.

The committee called for a “clear, comprehensive and codified plan with clear and concrete time frames of the entire vaccination strategy from the department”.

The department also has to indicate its intention to pay per vaccine and its targeted manufacturers.

“It told the department that it is going to call it to account if the rollout strategy of the Covid-19 vaccines fail to translate into vaccination of the people of South Africa according to the manner it phased them.”

The briefing focused on vaccine roll-out planning, vaccine procurement, distribution plan, risks and mitigation strategies, SMME opportunities and vaccine security.

The mitigation strategy includes the strengthening of internal controls to deal with possible malfeasance in procurement, justice and security cluster involvement to deal with possible vaccine theft and coordinating with provinces to stagger deliveries in line with storage capacity.