4 January 2021Statement
Issued by the office of the SACC General Secretary, Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana
“Coronavirus Vaccine constitutes public good”
South African Council of Churches (SACC) has received with relief, the
news from the National Department of Health (NDoH) as announced by
Minister Zwelini Mkhize, pertaining to the Coronavirus Vaccine Rollout
Strategy. We are firmly in the midst of the second wave of infections,
categorised by in excess of 18 000 new cases each day, not to mention
the rate of mortality of our people. There can be no doubt in the minds
of any South African that an expedited process in the procurement and
distribution of the vaccines is required.
have been and continue on our Drive to Drive Down the Coronavirus
infection rates through non-pharmaceutical measures and social behaviour
change. In the short term, we must all commit to this without letting
up. We must all continue to prioritise the correct and consistent
wearing of cloth face-masks. We must prioritise social distancing; hand
hygiene must continue to be sustained; and we must ensure that rooms
are well ventilated because the virus lingers in the air of our homes
for hours, just like the odour of tobacco.
we believe that the sustainable solution in the long term is adequate
levels of population immunity that a vaccine can make possible to
minimise infections. While we understand that the Vaccine Rollout
Strategy represents months of intense work from a research and
development perspective, we appeal to Government to pull out all the
stops to ensure urgent rollout of the vaccine, which is a public good.
It is cause for significant concern to think that we must continue to
watch our people dying as we wait for the first confirmed COVAX vaccines
to arrive in the county in the second quarter of the year. If any
other steps can be taken to bring vaccines into the country sooner, let
there be no human hindrance to that process.
therefore, appeal to the public-private partnerships to prioritise the
value of human life ahead of profits. It would be disheartening for any
partners to position themselves between the only solution available to
South Africans to acquire large-scale immunity.
call on Government to engage with the pharmaceutical companies who have
developed the vaccines, and negotiate for the reduction in costs and
patent periods, without which South Africa and other developing
countries may not be able to afford to contain the spread of the
Coronavirus. We strongly believe that commercial considerations should
not override the value of human life, and this sets an urgent moral
obligation at the doorstep of every pharmaceutical company and
procurement entity. God forbid that the thought of personal gain and
inordinate profits would cross the minds of anyone in the supply chain
in the roll-out of the vaccine!
As the Church, let us continue to stand in prayer for South Africa as instructed in Isaiah 40:31: “But
they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount
up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall
walk and not faint.”
we await the phased roll-out of the vaccine, we call on all churches to
sustain the campaign for non-pharmaceutical measures to limit the virus
spread. We should also be prepared to do without much of our customary
social practices, including how we relate to death and bereavement, in
order to prevent further deaths. These are the only measures we
currently have, to keep the people safe as we await the roll-out of the
vaccine over the coming months.
Let us stand firm in the implementation of these measures, as they have the potential to save lives.