South African business group lobbies vaccine focus on senior citizens

A business lobby group in South Africa has reportedly called on the government to shift the focus of its vaccine program on the elderly as well as the vulnerable, to avoid hospitals being flooded with patients from a third COVID-19 wave.

South Africa is increasingly falling behind its schedule in the first phase of its vaccination program, which aimed towards vaccinating healthcare professionals across the country. Those over the age of 60 or with comorbidities have not been scheduled to be vaccinated until later, in phase II, where they along with the country’s other essential workers and individuals that who work in crowded locations would be inoculated.

Stavros Nicolaou, an executive from Aspen Pharmacare, which was awarded that contract to make Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines in South Africa, stated that the business group had called for immediate changes to the national vaccination plans in the light of the very slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Nicolaou also serves as the Public Health Workgroup chairman at business lobby, B4SA (Business for South Africa),

Nicolaou further added that the business lobby group had written to the South African government this month, suggesting that the vulnerable and the senior citizens should be moved up to the top of the priority list.

With the lack of adequate coronavirus vaccine stocks in Q2, it makes much more sense to start inoculating citizens who are in the mortality curve, so that healthcare services are not overburdened if cases rise.

The country’s vaccination campaign was slowed down after it halted the use of AstraZeneca vaccines, when it was discovered in a small study that these vaccines is less effective against the COVID-19 variant that is dominant across the nation. 

Till date only 160,000 healthcare workers have been inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine jabs, which is a mere 13% of the goal to vaccinate nearly 1.25 million people by Q1 end of 2021.

Source credit: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-safrica-vaccine/south-african-business-group-calls-for-vaccine-focus-on-elderly-idUSKBN2BE1AT