Covid-19 vaccine rollout: 'Government is moving as fast as it can,' Parliament hears

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Parliament has been updated on the country's vaccine rollout.
Parliament has been updated on the country's vaccine rollout.
Gallo Images/Lefty Shivambu
  • The national health department has defended the slow Covid-19 vaccination of South Africans.
  • Dr Nicholas Crisp, who is in charge of the EVDS, has told Parliament many more people are expected to receive their jabs in the coming weeks.
  • On Friday, officials from the Auditor-General and the national health department briefed the national legislature's health portfolio committee.

Government is moving as fast as the Covid-19 vaccine distribution has been able to roll out the life-saving jabs, the man overseeing the electronic vaccination data system (EVDS) has said.

Dr Nicholas Crisp said many more people were expected to receive their jabs in the coming weeks.

On Friday, officials from the office of the Auditor-General (AG) and the national health department briefed Parliament's health portfolio committee on the first and second special report on Covid-19 expenditure and the vaccination rollout, respectively.

Asked about the slow pace of vaccinations, Crisp said: "We have nearly vaccinated as many people since Monday last week as the whole of the Sisonke study. This week has been a substantial increase over last week, so as the health workers on-site are becoming more confident, they are able to vaccinate faster, schedule more people."

READ | Covid-19: Sahpra waiting for Sputnik V vaccine manufacturer to respond as part of approval process

He also said the EVDS was already decentralised.

"The system has entirely been decentralised as to the vaccination sites, and each province managed their own vaccination sites. Already we are seeing the patterns changing as they get more confidence about their vaccine availability," he said.

South Africa recorded 4 424 new Covid-19 infections by Thursday, and 93 people died of coronavirus complications. As of Thursday, the official death toll was 56 170.

As of Thursday, 828 204 people had been vaccinated.

READ | WHO sounds the alarm: SA's rising cases 'account for a third of all new cases in Africa'

DA spokesperson on health Siviwe Gwarube said the EVDS was not benefitting the elderly, who were being targetted in phase two of the vaccination programme.

"If we are going [to] have a system of walk-ins, what is the point of having the electronic system in place," she said.

Meanwhile, the AG officials told MPs several control weaknesses had been found throughout the health sector which materially impacted the quality and value for money of the services or products delivered.

AG deputy business executive manager Eugene de Haan said a majority of the findings in the second report were in progress at the time of tabling the first report.

"Repeat findings noted were as a result of the slow response by management to implement the recommendations and commitments made, with appreciation that management were occupied with responding to the pandemic.

"The accounting officers have committed to implementing a number of internal controls to address the significant deficiencies identified, with most accounting officers committing to suspending emergency procurement and reverting back to normal procurement processes, as well as ensuring that matters reported are followed up," he said.

READ ALSO | Covid-19: Free State hospitals filling up as third wave hits province

De Haan also told MPs follow-up actions should include investigations and consequence management, where applicable, for transgressions.

ANC MP Maurencia Gillion said despite operating in a complex space, teething issues continued in the department.

"The AG has said there were follow-up being made from the first report. The issue of contract management. We need clarity on the issues raised by the AG. Although an effort was made to prevent the weaknesses, these controls were not fully implemented. It resulted in repeat offences. It concerns me that some of the initiatives did not achieve the result. Monitoring across these three spheres of governance is of importance," she said.

De Haan added that it was important for health MECs and provincial accounting officers to take it forward.

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