South Africa: Why Is the Government in Such a Muddle Over Vaccinations?


President Cyril Ramaphosa's pronouncements about vaccine supply are muddled. Apparent incoherence and a lack of transparency may be the symptoms of a vaccine strategy that is coming to be driven by political, not scientific considerations.

First published by GroundUp.

Jeremy Seekings is Professor of Political Studies and Sociology at UCT and Nicoli Nattrass is Professor of Economics at UCT.

On Tuesday 15 June, speaking on television, President Ramaphosa told the nation that there had been 'delays' and 'setbacks' with the vaccination roll-out, but that it was back on track.

But what track is this?

The President's report on the vaccination programme was muddled, apparently reflecting the lack of any clear and coherent strategy on the part of the government.

The government's original Vaccine Roll-out Strategy (published on 3rd January) set out a very general roadmap for both securing vaccine supplies (primarily through the Covax facility and domestic manufacturers) and then administering them to the priority groups (health care workers, then the elderly, adults with co-morbidities, people in "congregant settings" such as prisons, and essential workers).

Actual government policy soon deviated from this strategy. It soon became clear that most of the required vaccine doses would have to be obtained directly...

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