47,500 vaccine doses lost during unrest — health department

Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi says the government aims to administer at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 35-million people by Christmas. File photo.
Acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi says the government aims to administer at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 35-million people by Christmas. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/DENIS BALIBOUSE

An estimated 47,500 vaccine doses have been lost as a result of the violent unrest and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng last week.

This is according to acting health minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, who was speaking during a media briefing on Friday. 

Kubayi said about 120 private pharmacies that support the health sector were destroyed during the unrest. 

“Fortunately, most public vaccine sites were not damaged and this enabled us to quickly resume vaccinations in KwaZulu-Natal.”

Earlier this week, the department’s deputy director-general for National Health Insurance, Dr Nicholas Crisp, said the government was concerned the lost vaccine doses could get into the illicit market and people might buy them.

“One store that had vaccines was gutted and emptied, and those are the medicines we are concerned about getting into some kind of illicit market,” he said.

Crisp said the damage to pharmacies and other health facilities helping the government speed up the vaccination process could lead to a setback.

“In terms of the infrastructure and ability to deliver, a large number of private pharmacies were damaged. Not all were vaccination centres but it is still a concern because that is where many patients get other medications.”

To date, SA has administered more than 6-million doses of the vaccine.

Kubayi said the government aims to administer at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose to 35-million people by Christmas.

“We have passed the 5-million mark. I know it is not sufficient, as some have correctly pointed out, but we think we are doing very well in terms of improving.”

The acting health minister said she wrote to Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer asking them to commit to vaccine delivery schedules.

“There was a delay in terms of J&J but we are getting a schedule. We can confirm we have received J&J and Pfizer schedules.

“We have not received an indication from the health products regulator that the Sinopharm vaccine has been approved.”


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