DA withdraws vaccine rollout court challenge

John Steenhuisen and Ivan Meyer address the media, 17 November 2019. Democratic Alliance (DA) members voted for John Steenhuisen to become their new interim leader and voted for Ivan Meyer to be the party’s interim federal chairperson at Nkukuleko House in Johannesburg. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The Presidency has welcomed the DA’s decision to withdraw its court action over the country’s vaccine strategy.

The Presidency has welcomed the DA’s decision to withdraw its court action over the country’s vaccine strategy, saying the opposition party did not have a case in the first place.

“The DA had sought an order from the court declaring that government’s conduct in preparing and implementing its programme to administer Covid-19 vaccines ‘is irrational and unconstitutional,” the Presidency said on Friday.

It said the DA also sought an order directing the government to develop a comprehensive and coordinated plan to procure, obtain and administer vaccines.

The DA’s withdrawal came after the government filed its answering affidavit, in which it outlined the measures it had taken to source, procure, distribute and administer vaccines.

It said it provided details of the plans that had been developed for the programme, even though it had provided regular updates on this in the public domain.

“The DA, therefore, had no good cause to bring its application in the first place,” the Presidency said.

“Despite the challenges posed by the reduced efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant of the virus, the vaccination of health workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has commenced.”

The first vaccinations began on Wednesday at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town after the first batch of 80 000 doses arrived late on Tuesday night.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived because further research was needed regarding the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine following the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19.

On Friday night, the Ministry of Health reported a further 151 Covid-19-related deaths.

Twelve people died in the Eastern Cape, 21 in the Free State, 43 in Gauteng, 40 in KwaZulu-Natal, one in Limpopo, eight in Mpumalanga and 26 in the Western Cape. This brings the total number of deaths in South Africa to 48 859.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said he welcomed the government’s “long-delayed release of its Covid-19 vaccination strategy and plan” and said they regretted that the party had to threaten court action.

“Now that this has happened, the purpose of our court challenge has been met, and there is, therefore, no point pursuing the case further.

“We have made it clear to the Presidency that we will be monitoring the implementation of the plan at every step of the way and he will see us back in court if the government’s actions show it is incapable of delivering on its commitments.”

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