Court to take closer look at government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy, implementation plan
By Zelda Venter 36m ago
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Pretoria – The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, will on March 2 take a closer look at government’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy and implementation plan to ensure South Africans receive vaccines fairly.
Government said, in a statement regarding its rollout strategy issued earlier this month by the national department of health, the rollout would be done in close co-ordination with the provincial health departments and the private healthcare sector in various phases.
AfriForum and trade union Solidarity, however, said while government had determined the phases and the various target groups which would receive the vaccine, it was mum on when and exactly how the process would commence.
“At this stage it seems government has not yet finally concluded all agreements for the supply of vaccines and the quantities involved while the administration of vaccines has already started in large quantities around the world,“ Dirk Hermann, CEO of Solidarity, said in court papers.
The applicants have instituted the urgent application against the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and his Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs counterpart Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
In their court papers they argue that the government’s vaccine rollout plan was unconstitutional. According to them government is deliberately excluding the private sector by not allowing it to buy, rollout or administer vaccines.
The two institutions further argue that the need for vaccines was urgent. However, they said the State’s centralisation of vaccines was delaying the rollout process.
“The government’s refusal to provide clarity about its plans to monopolise the procurement and rollout of vaccines proves that it considers it more important to consolidate its power rather than to save lives,” Ernst van Zyl of AfriForum said.
He added the answer for a fast and efficient rollout of the vaccine did not lie in its nationalisation.
The applicants are of the opinion that the private sector must be enabled to be involved in the procurement and rollout of vaccines.
They said the court case had been brought to prevent the government’s plans to centralise the vaccine process. The two institutions are requesting the court to give an order that the private sector may indeed buy vaccines.
According to them, speed is the key factor when it comes to vaccines. They will argue that rather than having one plan for millions of people, there was a need for millions of plans made by millions of people.
“Nobody is saying that the government should not buy vaccines – of course the government has to buy vaccines for the public health sector. We just feel strongly that the State’s role should be limited to being one of many role players in the procurement and rollout of vaccines.
“We are therefore not arguing that the government has no role to play, but that it should not be the only role player. Without the private sector also buying vaccines the situation is rife for corruption and inefficiency,” they stated in court papers.
The two organisations are asking the court to declare the government’s rollout plan unconstitutional and that any institution outside the State’s framework will have the right to procure and administer vaccines.
They said the rapid spread of Covid-19, along with the second wave of infections, necessitate the urgent need to vaccinate as much of the population (ideally two thirds) as quickly as possible, to achieve herd immunity as soon as possible.
The centralised control of the vaccination process and the stifling of the private sector through bureaucratic measures could only result in unwarranted delays in the distribution and administration of vaccines to the population.