Some 550,000 high-risk members will be targeted first.
But while it hopes to launch its vaccination programme at the start of May, it warned that the bulk of South Africa’s vaccines may only arrive from June.
Discovery says it plans to vaccinate 50,000 of its members per day “pending vaccine supply”, and it is setting up 20 large vaccination sites.
In a letter to members, Adrian Gore, founder and CEO of Discovery, says that this should
Discovery’s 550,000 high-risk members to be vaccinated within a few weeks.
Discovery’s medical scheme has three million members.
Gore says that, effectively, global pharmaceutical manufacturers are not allowing
Discovery and other private companies to procure vaccines directly.
“The bottom line is that in this supply-constrained environment, vaccine procurement
must be led by the State, with strong collaboration from the private sector.”
According to government’s current plan, the private sector will be included in the
vaccination rollout from May.
“We are confident that this target is feasible and achievable,” Gore said.
On Thursday, government released a new timeframe for vaccinations.
After the first phase for health workers, phase 2 of the programme will target 13 million
“vulnerable” South Africans, including some essential workers, and run from May to October.
The elderly and those with co-morbidities will be included in the second phase.
adding that Discovery has already identified those at highest risk among its members, “who will be prioritised”.
“We know exactly who should receive the vaccine first, and we will communicate quickly
with our scheme members to confirm their place in the rollout, contingent on vaccine supply.”
Gore expects an acceleration in South Africa’s vaccine rollout from late April.
“If we can secure more vaccines in the second quarter of the year, then getting through
the high-risk groups by the end of June could be a reality.”
But, at the same time, he warned that the bulk of the 31 million vaccines that
South Africa procured will only arrive in the country from June onward.
“This hampers the ideal of vaccinating those at high risk by the end of June.
can by engaging with global manufacturers to free up stock that can be fast-tracked for
the second quarter of the year. We are hopeful that more can be done.”
If supply allows, Discovery will launch its vaccination programme on May 1, and aims to
do 40,000 to 50,000 vaccinations per day. The company is “deploying” more than 500
people and is setting up 20 large vaccination centres.
It is also developing its own digital portal for vaccinations, which will allow for bookings
and tracking progress. This will work alongside the Department of Health’s National
Electronic Vaccine Distribution System (EVDS).