Cosatu slams ANC for slow Covid-19 vaccine rollout

Siviwe Feketha Political reporter
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.
Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali.

Cosatu has slammed the ANC-led government and accused it of “incompetence with deadly consequences” over failure to timeously implement the Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme.

Following its special central executive committee meeting, the federation said it was alarmed by the extremely slow pace with which the government was rolling out vaccines to the population in order to secure much-needed herd immunity.

Cosatu general secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali said while the federation had noted the announcement by health minister Zweli Mkhize on the government’s intention to resume phase 1 and begin phase 2 of inoculation as well as the process of securing various vaccines around the world, this was at a very slow pace.

With only 250,000 of the 1.25m  targeted frontline workers having been vaccinated to date, Ntshalintshali said the federation was strongly opposed to the government’s pushing meeting  the targeted 67%  immunisation rate for herd immunity to June 2022 despite it being initially scheduled for later this year.

“We reject this proposal. Workers cannot be sacrificed because of the government's incompetence. Delaying the vaccinations of teachers and police officers, of mining, energy and transport workers, is not the solution and must be rejected by all sane persons who understand the need for the economy to recover,” Ntshalintshali said.

He pointed out that there was a threat to the collapse of the tourism industry in the country as only nine countries in the world had not placed restrictions on travelling to SA.

“The public has the right to expect better from the government. The government needs to produce an actual vaccine programme with real timeframes, the necessary logistics and a target date of December 2021 for reaching the 67% population immunity rate,” he said.

About 40m South Africans would have to be inoculated  for the country to build herd immunity for  Covid-19.

The government indicated that it was expecting about 30m  doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which is being produced at Aspen Pharmacies in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, of which the first batch would be received this month.

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