Cheer as Covid-19 vaccine rollout gets a shot in the arm

11 July 2021 - 00:00
People wait for their jabs at a Discovery mass vaccination site in Midrand. A third wave of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng may have peaked after daily infections surged to a record last week.
People wait for their jabs at a Discovery mass vaccination site in Midrand. A third wave of Covid-19 cases in Gauteng may have peaked after daily infections surged to a record last week.
Image: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Covid-19 is still raging but the accelerating vaccination rollout has finally started neutralising criticism that has dogged it.

University of Cape Town economics professor Nicoli Nattrass, who has been one of the leading critics of the pace of the rollout, said it was finally picking up, “which is excellent news”.

Nattrass welcomed the announcement on Friday that weekend vaccinations would be introduced next month and said vaccine supplies are adequate.

“We still have plenty of vaccines available in the system — at least three weeks’ worth — and more doses are due to be flown into the country on a regular basis,” she said. “I’m really glad they [the health department] are being more proactive and less rigid.”

Right to Care founder and ministerial advisory committee member professor Ian Sanne said he was “cautiously optimistic at the progressive expansion. Each day it is reaching higher targets.”

He added: “The rate at which we are vaccinating exceeds the projected short-term supply, but we have access to vaccine delivery. They are available … we must use the doses rather than store them.”

Wits University professor of medicine Francois Venter said more effort was needed to get over-60s vaccinated, but he was glad that “we are finally seeing an acceleration”.

Sanne said a pilot project this week at a South African Social Security Agency paypoint in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape had successfully vaccinated hundreds of elderly people, and “we intend to expand that”.

South African Medical Research Council president professor Glenda Gray said the expansion of vaccinations to over-35s from August 1 could also be a boon for older people.

“Hopefully young people will bring the elderly with them to get vaccinated,” she said. “We need to get more shots in arms. Supplies are secured and all willing people should come forward and be vaccinated.”


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