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David Mabuza to lead inter-ministerial committee on vaccines

Mawande AmaShabalala Political journalist
Deputy president David Mabuza will chair the inter-ministerial committee on vaccines. File photo
Deputy president David Mabuza will chair the inter-ministerial committee on vaccines. File photo
Image: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed his deputy, David Mabuza, to lead the inter-ministerial committee that will oversee everything related to the Covid-19 vaccine.

The appointment will come as a reprieve for Mabuza, whose whereabouts during a time of crisis have been a subject of long controversy.

Ramaphosa announced the appointment during a webinar organised by the ANC’s Progressive Business Forum on Tuesday.

“We are going to be getting the vaccines in the numbers that we require here in South Africa and we are pleased that our people are showing a keen interest in the whole issue of vaccines,” said Ramaphosa, in his capacity as ANC leader.

Ramaphosa said: “More and more people are seeing that this is the best route to take and it will be a game-changer as far as dealing with the pandemic is concerned.

“Today, we established inter-ministerial committee which will be chaired by the deputy president, I will chair the first meeting and set the whole process on the way so that we can deal with the various aspects of vaccine distribution.

“The strategy has already been developed but the IMC [inter-ministerial committee] will be dealing with the actual mechanics of ensuring that the whole process of vaccination is well done.”

Several forums representing black business which took part in the webinar complained to Ramaphosa that government was giving most of its business to white-owned businesses.

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Ramaphosa committed that more black businesses will be included. He, however, stated that there was very little business that government was going to outsource as part of the vaccination program since the sourcing of the vaccines was wholly done by government.

Only distribution, would be outsourced and government would strive for fair splitting of business, he said.

Dr Aquina Thulare, a member of the Covid-19 Partnership Task Team, delivered a detailed presentation on the vaccination programme.

Among the country’s priorities in the vaccine procurement, she said, would be supplier capacity, short- and long-term safety and efficacy, cost effectivity, and stability during storage and distribution.

The attendees of the webinar, who included the ANC top 6 and industry leaders from the business sector, voted on whether they would take the vaccine.

The results were 58% of people voting “yes”, while 29% were “uncertain” and 13% said “no”.

Thulare said government had requested National Treasury for “deviation from supply chain processes for vaccines”.

The security of the vaccines during storage and distribution was priority, the forum heard. Among the security measures was that the distribution vehicles and the actual jabs would be subjected to tracking and monitoring using bar code scanning.

At the sites where the vaccination will be administered, said Thulare, the police and soldiers would be deployed to ensure security.

“The vaccines are going to be trackable and traceable and we are going to use a bar coding scanning system to do this,” said Thulare.

“This means that we are going to know where each and every jab is going to be used and this will be through this scanning system. And as it is distributed to various sites, we will know how many vaccines are in each site and how many have been used and not used.

“Vaccines must be disposed of in a secure fashion and we must also ensure we monitor there is no wastage of the vaccine.”

For those who react adversely to the vaccines, said Thulare, health emergency personnel will be on standby in all vaccination sites.

“We will monitor any adverse effect that may result out of administering the vaccine. There will be electronic reporting of all adverse events following immunisation as a method for passive surveillance.

“What I also want to indicate is that for the vaccination programme, wherever we are going to be vaccinating in the sites, there will be teams of health professionals who will be ready to manage any adverse effect from vaccination including ensuring that there are resuscitation kits and there is appropriate skill to manage adverse effects immediately and actively.”

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