Deputy President David Mabuza has acknowledged that the acquisition of a COVID-19 vaccine has been tough for government, and said he believes they will be able to meet their target.

Mabuza addressed a virtual South African National Aids Council (SANAC) plenary session on Friday, March 12, 2021. The deputy president has lauded Health Minister Zweli Mkhize for spearheading the fight against the pandemic and the vaccination drive.

“It has been a very difficult journey given global shortages in the supply of vaccines. We are faced with the difficulties of negotiating onerous and tough contractual terms that have been imposed by the manufacturers of vaccines. For this, we commend Minister Mkhize and the team for the sterling work under very demanding circumstances. In the end, we will overcome as a country,” Mabuza said.

“While the process of vaccine acquisition and procurement will require agility and speed to meet our domestic vaccination demands, we are confident of meeting our targeted projections based on negotiations currently underway to access vaccines through various institutional platforms”

David Mabuza on SA’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

David Mabuza further said they needed to leverage existing capacities and foster collaborative platforms for vaccine research and innovation among universities, the scientific community and global partners.

As of Thursday evening, 11 March 2021, just over 138 000 healthcare workers had been administered the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The deputy president’s comments come as some have heavily criticised the government, mainly bemoaning the pace of the rollout.

A little over 334 million people have received a COVID-19 vaccine across 121 countries, which translates to exactly 8.41 million jabs per day.

“The vaccine roll-out plan has comprehensively mapped out all storage, distribution and vaccination sites that will ensure equitable access to vaccines by everyone irrespective of where they live. The phases of the plan provide clear categorisation, and prioritisation of various population groups to be targeted over the period of the vaccination process until the country achieves the desired population immunity,” Mabuza said.

Phase 1 of the country’s vaccination rollout is currently underway and will soon be followed by Phase 2, which will focus on essential workers, persons in congregate settings, persons over the age of 60 and persons with co-morbidities who are over the age of 18. Phase 3 will target approximately 22 500 000 South Africans, and will be administered to persons older than 18 years of age.

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Presh JM Reporter

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