Medical aid Discovery Health says that it has been in contact with all Covid-19 vaccine producers, but cannot independently source and distribute vaccines as this remains under the ambit of the government.
In an emailed statement to Reuters, Discovery Health chief executive Ryan Noach said that the company is still making preparations to offer vaccines to its members.
“While we (Discovery) might be in contact with vaccine manufacturers, the acquisition of the vaccine and the policy for who receives it and in what sequence remains the exclusive responsibility of government, until such time as government informs otherwise,” he said.
“We have been in regular liaison with vaccine manufacturers since September 2020,” Noach said in an emailed response to Reuters. He said the company is taking all measures to “ensure the procurement is efficient, and stock available quickly, especially for the most at risk.”
In a letter sent to clients over the weekend, Discovery chief executive officer Adrian Gore said that that the healthcare and financial group is ready to launch a ‘mass vaccination programme’ – as soon as enough vaccines are available in the country.
Gore said that while government’s vaccine procurement has been frustrated by ‘complexities’, if the required doses arrive according to schedule, the group will be able to inoculate tens of thousands of members every day.
“The country is on the brink of securing sufficient vaccines to cover more than 37 million adults in South Africa, exceeding the population herd immunity target of 29 million people – the number of adults required to reach the herd immunity threshold,” he said.
“The key issue is when the vaccines will arrive in the country, and the success of the combined efforts of both the public and private sector to fast-track vaccine administration in order to cover the high-risk population as soon as possible.”
He said the group has the capacity to vaccinate 50,000 people per day, pending vaccine supply. This will enable all of Discovery’s 550,000 high-risk members to be vaccinated “within a few weeks”.