Gov message on vaccine must be clear

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The controversy surrounding the issues of the vaccine’s availability and efficacy to South Africa must be resolved as a matter of urgency. In the past few days, we have witnessed the unprecedented contradictions from government, medical experts and most concerning the peddling of conspiracy theories about the vaccine’s safety.

The Progressive Health Forum’s utterances include some of the notable esteemed medical experts such as Professor Glenda Gray, who is the South African Medical Research Council president sent shivers down my spine.

In their article, they cite “South Africa amongst the poorest nations who will rely on the global Covax facility as the only hope of receiving an adequate vaccine supply in the next 6-9 months and only after that the month-long vaccination programme will begin.”

Our Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize convened a briefing to outline plans on how the vaccines will be sourced and administered to the entire nations.

What’s is a glaring between the expert article and the minister’s address to the nation is the fundamental contradictions on whether South Africa has secured the vaccines and we are having a well-articulated and comprehensive plan to administer the vaccines to our people.

As the new variant of Covid-19 virus is ravaging the country, as citizens, we need surety and comfort that the vaccine has been secured and that as the minister says “the vaccine will be available by the end of February or the next quarter.”

Therefore it’s imperative that all the experts from the ministerial advisory committee to the progressive health forum should come together and sing from the same hymn sheet that we will be able to confront the demon called Covid 19 virus.

The time for bickering and outsmarting each other about the efficacy and availability of the vaccines are no more whilst our people are dying in numbers at the rate of about 400 a day. We need to learn from how HIV/AIDS decimated our nation, and like the country, we forged together in unison and administered one of the best HIV/AIDS treatment programmes which were hailed worldwide including by the World Health Organization. This was after all the struggle and squabbles by experts and government on whether HIV cause AIDS.

Therefore, all hands on deck, we had done before. Our message must be crystal clear to the nation, and nature doesn’t allow a vacuum. We need constant communication and assurance from our Health Ministry that all is in order and ready as the country to save lives and livelihood.

By Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina, ANC Sedibeng Regional Task Team Coordinator, writing in his personal capacity.