Why do we allow the state a monopoly over COVID-19 vaccination?

Only big brother can run a vaccine campaign?

By John Fraser

There can be no-one in South Africa who believes the state is doing a good job in vaccinating its citizens against the deadly COVID-19 virus. No-one.

Other countries are stumbling and bumbling as well. We have seen the rows over trade in vaccines between bitter divorcees UK and EU, and there have been fears about the side-effects of some vaccines – most notably the side-effect of blood clots.

However, South Africa just seems to be floundering. We bought a massive consignment of one type of vaccine, only to decide it was useless. So we sold it on to our African neighbours. Go figure?

Now we are told that the snail’s pace of vaccinating health workers will delay the next round of vaccinations until the middle of next month.

Reassuringly, the numbers becoming infected, and the numbers who are dying, appear to be far lower now than they have been.

But this pandemic is not going away, and we need to speed up the erection of the barricades.

If you need to do something fast and efficiently, it seems logical to those capable of logic, that you need all hands to the wheel.

The state has its strengths, though often these will be skilfully hidden. Surely, though, the private sector is also a potential partner.

It will come as no surprise that there are private companies that have approached the state, offering to procure and pay for vaccines for their workers – and in some cases for surrounding communities and those in their firm’s supply-chain as well – and to carry out the vaccinations.

The pros of such an approach? Lives will be saved and the state’s burden will be lowered, as it will not need to vaccinate anyone who has already been covered by such a programme.

Fewer infections, and a smaller burden for the state in spending on vaccines.

The pros are practical, but of course this approach has been polluted by ideology.

It cannot be disputed that some – though not all – of those who would benefit from a company’s own vaccination programme will already hold a privileged place in society.

It is also true that those who would fall outside the net of this type of programme would be at a comparative disadvantage, even though the more people who are protected against COVID-19, the lower the risk of infection for everyone.

So far, ideology has triumphed in South Africa, as one might have feared it would in a state which is still infested with leaders who have failed to fully disinfect themselves from the illogical communist ideology of the struggle years.

When it comes to populating coffins, it seems it is all for one and one for all, comrades.

No exceptions.

Take a step back and reflect on the consequences. The vaccination drive will be slower than it should be, with the state having put the brakes on private projects.

More people will fall ill, more will die, more families will lose a loved one, a bread-winner.

There is some encouraging movement from the private sector, with companies like some health insurers pledging to fast-track the vaccination of their own members, once government gives the green light.

However, the green light switch still remains in the hands of a bunch of politicians whose own judgement, ability and track record is questionable, to say the least.

How will history judge us?

I suspect that history will be a bit taken aback that instead of saving all possible lives by all possible means, the government has condemned many citizens to a painful and terrifying death because of ideological idiocy.

Do we South Africans really want to be remembered only for having a sinister variant of the virus named after us?

Surely not.

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