South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says the South African government is committed to rolling out vaccines urgently, to establish herd immunity against Covid-19.
While Speaking at a virtual public briefing, outlining the Department of Health’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy, the minister remarked that the vaccines had to be made available to all South Africans, with the most vulnerable and health workers being first in line.
The South African government has a strategy to establish herd immunity, and to achieve this, it is targeting 67% of the population to be vaccinated.
Health workers “need to be protected so they can ensure the stability of our own health care systems”, the South African Health Minister minister added.
He said about 10% of the country’s population would be covered by the Covax programme but this will not affect bilateral negotiations which are already in progress, with various companies in the hope of securing some vaccines as early as February.
The rollout of vaccines would be done in three phases, he said:
• The first phase would focus on front line health workers, targeting a population of 1,250,000.
• The second phase would include essential workers with a target population of 2,500,000, people older than 60 (5,000,000) and people older than 18 with co-morbidities (8,000,000)
• The third and final phase which has a target population of 22,500,000,
would target other people older than 18.
“At this stage, we have secured the doses that will be acquired through Covax which will ensure that we immunise 10% of the population through this mechanism and, in line with the president’s statement, we expect the processes will have delivered the vaccine by the beginning of the second quarter,” the South African Health minister said.”
“The funds to pay the outstanding amount after the deposit that has been made by the Solidarity Fund, around R1,8bn, have been allocated and let us take the opportunity to once again appreciate the manner in which the Solidarity Fund has partnered with government.”
“Having secured for 10% of the population, we have embarked on other efforts to get the rest of the 57% of the population to be targeted by the end 2021 but, more importantly we are making efforts to obtain vaccines much earlier, hopefully as early as February 2021.
“This will very much depend on the success of current bilateral negotiations we are in the midst of with various companies.”
While about 40 countries have already started rolling out vaccinations, there is a growing chorus of critics asking why the same is not happening in South Africa.
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