Covid-19 Vaccines for South Africa. Now

Africa Marketplace January 3, 2021 No Comments

Covid-19 Vaccines for South Africa. Now
Astonishingly, even now, in the full knowledge of what we face and with dozens of countries worldwide, including African nations, embarking on mass vaccination programmes against Covid-19, it is distressing to hear senior officials increasingly talking down the prospects for the availability and usefulness of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa.

The world is in the grip of a massive resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic, in which SARSCoV-2, the coronavirus, appears to have produced a variant suspected of such great transmissibility that even the most stringent attempts at mitigation by non-pharmaceutical intervention is failing to contain the spread. 

More chillingly, the increased spread of the virus is generating a corresponding acceleration in the numbers of people getting infected and, by extension, is exposing health systems in even the best resourced countries to an overwhelming burden with which they’re increasingly unable to cope. 

Humanity is now facing the full force of the greatest public health emergency in modern history, with no sign that the force of the pandemic will abate anytime soon. The only instrument humanity now has to contain the pandemic, effective vaccines, are becoming available through an uneven and desperate race among nations. Even this hopeful intervention will not bring solace anytime soon. 

It will take many months and huge resources to inoculate sufficient numbers of people for the pandemic to be suppressed. And that is the outlook if countries begin mass inoculation right now, as some 40 countries have embarked upon. 

Many more are preparing to receive vaccine supply in the next several weeks to join the vaccination drive. For the rest, mainly the poorest nations on the planet, the global COVAX facility offers the only hope of receiving an adequate vaccine supply sometime in the next six to nine months, only after which can the months-long vaccination programmes begin. 

It beggars belief that South Africa, against all reasonable expectations, finds itself in this group, since it is not a poor country, despite the best efforts of a corrupt political class to ensure that moniker. The stunning reality is that It has neither a secured vaccine supply nor a plan for mass inoculation in the foreseeable future that can withstand scrutiny. This portends for this country the worst ravages of Covid-19 in the year ahead. 

This lack of foresight will visit on us the consequences of the greatest man-made failure to protect the population since the Aids pandemic, when we refused to provide life-saving medicines out of choice and against the desperate pleas of horrified medical and humanitarian agencies here and abroad and directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. A high probability of a reprise of this is a monumental and unforgivable failing. 

Developed and developing nations alike appear to have proceeded with early negotiations for future vaccine procurement several months ago without any qualms. South African officials appear to have eschewed such efforts, but what unique insights they may have in this regard is unknown. Assertions that SA knew better than many advanced and peer nations might have been dismissed as misplaced confidence, were the consequences not so deadly. 

Astonishingly, even now, in the full knowledge of what we face and with dozens of countries worldwide, including African nations, embarking on mass vaccination programmes against Covid-19, it is distressing to hear senior officials increasingly talking down the prospects for the availability and usefulness of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa. 

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