Thousands of South African opposition activists rallied in Pretoria to demand a faster coronavirus vaccination rollout in the continent’s worst-hit country.
With less than four percent of South Africa’s 59 million population inoculated, protesters are calling on regulators to approve more vaccines and speed up the pace of inoculations to get people back to work and kickstart the economy.
“Our agenda is simple, give our people vaccines, we want to open our economy,” Julius Malema, leader of the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters, told more than 2,500 supporters in Pretoria.
South Africa is the continent’s worst-hit country, with more than 1.8 million cases and over 59,000 deaths. Most of those who have so far received jabs have been the elderly and healthcare workers.
In a gathering criticised as a possible super-spreading event, EFF supporters clad in red party regalia marched to the offices of the health products regulator to demand the approval of more vaccines.
South Africa has so far administered only Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer shots.
The EFF is also pushing for the use of Chinese and Russian vaccines, warning it would stage a sit-in at the home of the regulator’s chairwoman if it did not approve the emergency use of the jabs within seven days.
On Wednesday, the regulator announced it had received documentation for the Sinopharm vaccine and would commence with evaluating the data in assessing the efficacy of the vaccine.