Bonitas Medical Fund ready to vaccinate 150 000 people per day as third wave looms

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South Africa is procuring some of its vaccines from pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson
South Africa is procuring some of its vaccines from pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson
  • As SA braces for a third Covid-19 wave, the importance of a vaccine rollout has become more pressing. 
  • Medical fund Bonitas says it is working to ensure that it is ready to roll out the vaccine to eligible scheme members.
  • Its principal officer says the fund will be able to vaccinate 150 000 eligible people per day. 

As South Africa braces itself for a third Covid-19 wave, the urgency of rolling out the vaccine is "undeniable" says Bonitas Medical Fund's principal officer, Lee Callakoppen. 

Experts have warned that the country could find itself in the grip of the third wave at the end of this month or in the middle of May.

"Various scenarios have been presented regarding the speed of propagation of the third wave – the worst assumption is that it will be twice as fast as the second wave. The best case scenario is that the virus is 50% more transmissible than the second wave," said Callakoppen in a statement on Thursday.

More than 1.5 million South Africans have tested positive for Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic and 278 909 vaccines have been administered. 

Only government can procure the vaccine for the country and although private parties are prohibited from doing so, Callakoppen said Bonitas are working to ensure that it is ready to roll out the vaccine to eligible scheme members. Through Medscheme, its administrator, Bonitas is collaborating with the Department of Health, Business for SA, the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) and other stakeholders to assist with the rollout from phase two.

South Africa is currently vaccinating healthcare workers as part of the first phase of the rollout. The second phase is expected to begin next month and will cover essential workers, people in congregated settings, people who are 60 years old and above, as well as people over the age of 18 who have co-morbidities. 

"Through collaboration with one of our partners, Afrocentric Health [Medscheme's owner] we will be able to administer up to 150 000 vaccinations per day," he said.

Bonitas has more than 336 000 members and Callakoppen said over 10 000 of them who work in healthcare have been vaccinated in the first phase of the programme.  

The scheme also has about 72 000 members who are essential or congregate workers and 185 000 who are in the high-risk group of people over 60 or people with co-morbidities.

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