Economic recovery – both globally and nationally – is not possible without a vaccine, according to the World Bank. To that end, hospitality association, FEDHASA, has called on government to prioritise the roll-out of the vaccination programme in South Africa so that the destination can be considered internationally viable.
The association said the roll-out delay to the second quarter of 2021, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his latest address, would put South Africa at a significant disadvantage when it came to restoring confidence in inbound international travel.
“With last week’s approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the United Kingdom, we have renewed hope that rolling out an effective vaccine in South Africa sooner rather than later can become a reality,” said Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA Chairperson.
The vaccine, which is also being tested in South Africa, is cheaper than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and can be stored at fridge temperature, making it far more accessible for use by GPs and even care homes.
“We need to bring South Africa in line with other countries that have already started this process so that the destination can be considered internationally viable. It is our view that travel will only return to some level of normality and, by implication, our tourism and hospitality sector can only begin its recovery when we start rolling out the vaccine programme in South Africa in earnest. There simply is no other option but to fast track the vaccine programme.
“Our tourism and hospitality industry continues to be incredibly hard hit by the negative impact of COVID lockdowns. We cannot afford not to prioritise this very action that could save hundreds of thousands of livelihoods that hang in the balance,” emphasised Anderson.
This comes as the World Bank said today (Tuesday, January 5) in its January 2021 ‘Global Economic Prospects’ report that the global economy was expected to expand 4% in 2021, “assuming an initial COVID-19 vaccine roll-out becomes widespread throughout the year”.
“A recovery will likely be subdued, unless policymakers move decisively to tame the pandemic and implement investment-enhancing reforms,” said World Bank Group President, David Malpass.
Call for more clarity on SA’s vaccination plan
Meanwhile, noting that South Africans needed more answers on the government’s vaccination roll-out, Democratic Alliance Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzone, has written to Parliamentary Speaker Thandi Modise demanding an urgent debate by the house on the country's vaccination plan, as well as the formation of an ad hoc committee to police the vaccine roll-out plan.
Secondly, the party's Shadow Minister of Health, Siviwe Gwarube, has launched a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to force Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, to “place all his cards on the table” about SA's COVID-19 vaccine plans.