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South Africa’s Western Cape Requires Billions of Rands for COVID-19 Vaccine

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Western Cape, a South African province, will need billions of rands to pocure the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine for its population, said Premier Alan Winde.

However, Winde warns that the province cannot afford the money needed to vaccinate Western Cape’s five million population.

He added that he and his procurement team will meet this week to hash out a plan and source money from provincial treasury that will bolster the national Department of Health’s allocated doses for the province.

The Western Cape is expected to receive over 93 000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines this. Winde could not confirm the budget for provincial procurement of vaccines but said he hopes to have that target by Wednesday.

Of the expected 93,000 doses, 35,000 would be used to vaccinate healthcare workers in the private sector.

He said: “Hopefully, I will be able to have that target by Wednesday when our team reports back because we know at the moment that 38 million doses are too few for the country … so what does that mean for us as a province?”

Winde said he was not willing to engage in a debate over the implications of the vaccine costs.

“Lets put it into perspective, it depends on what you want to weigh-up a lot of money against. The price of vaccines versus how many people are going to die in the third wave. It’s not even worth having that discussion. We have to try and mitigate as much risk as possible, we spent billions on PPE and now suddenly people are worrying about spending money on vaccines. Come on – we mustn’t have that discussion.”

He added, “Vaccine pricing is less than testing. Of course, vaccines are many more than testing – so you need to vaccinate in our province nearly 5 million people, but for me at the end of the day the price of the vaccine and the price of the roll-out of the vaccine versus saving of lives, it becomes a no-brainer it’s what we’ve got to do.”

Winde also confirmed that he will be meeting officials from the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) this week to get a timeline as to when they might approve other vaccines besides the Oxford-AstraZeneca one which the body has given the green light to for use.

He admitted it would be pointless for the Western Cape government to buy a vaccine that has not yet been approved for use in South Africa.

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Zambia to Recruit 395 Health Workers for COVID-19 Fight

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Zambia’s Minister of Health, Jonas Chanda, has announced plans to recruit 395 health workers to lessen the burden on the workforce worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chanda confirmed that President Edgar Lungu had authorised the hiring of more health workers as part of the COVID-19 response.

“The epidemiology of the COVID-19 has contributed to an unprecedented increase in the demands on the healthcare workforce, and simultaneously
diminished health worker supply,” he said in a statement.

“The ministry has also employed the Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes platform to enhance the capacity of the current staff through
mentorship and case management”, said the official.

Chanda acknowledged that the country had seen reduced numbers of COVID-19 cases in the past one week, but warned against complacency.

According to him, more efforts need to be exerted in order to sustain the gains and prevent an anticipated third wave in the cold season.

Zambia recorded 555 new cases in the last 24 hours, bringing the cumulative cases to 79,557. The cases were picked from 6,266 tests done,
representing a nine per cent positivity.

During the same period, the country recorded six deaths, bringing the total deaths to 1,104, while 476 patients were discharged,
bringing the total recoveries to 75,563.

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Nigeria Receives First Batch Of COVID-19 Vaccines

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The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from the World Health Organisation and GAVI’s COVAX facility has arrived Nigeria.

The vaccines were received at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory on Tuesday morning.

Nigeria has received 3.92million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first batch and it is expected to be administered on health workers, people who work in the essential service areas and some other citizens.

The vaccines with the brand name COVIShield is made as a patent of AstraZeneca vaccine, by the Serum Institute of India.

Nigeria is West Africa’s worst-hit country with 156,017 cases and 1915 deaths recorded so far at a fatality rate of 1.22%, which is lower than the African average of more than 2.5% fatality.

COVAX vaccination programmes have already started in Ivory Coast and Ghana, with President Nana Akufo-Addo and his wife receiving the vaccines publicly on Monday in Accra.

The vaccination rollout and scheduling will be handled by the Nigerian Primary Healthcare board.

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Nigeria, Kenya Receive COVID-19 Vaccines on Tuesday

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Twenty-four African countries, including Nigeria and Kenya, will soon receive Covid-19 vaccines from the UN-backed Covax programme.

Nigeria, which expects to get a total of six million doses from COVAX, will receive 3.92m vaccine doses on Tuesday, becoming the third West-African country to benefit from the facility.

The Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, who revealed this, at the weekend, said that barring any change in the delivery plan released by UNICEF, the vaccines will depart India on March 1, 2021 by 10.30 pm and arrive Abuja on March 2, 2021 at about 11.10 am.

He said, “We are making preparations for about 4 million doses of vaccines from the COVAX facility, We are supposed to have about 16 million in the first quarter.

“We are expecting 84 million doses from the COVAX facility which is free of charge and will cover about 20 per cent of the Nigerian population.

“We also have another source of vaccines from the Harvard facility, which is the African Vaccine Action Team. We are expecting about 41 million doses of AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson.

“Everything we are expecting from COVAX is AstraZeneca which has a good range in terms of storage because it uses +2 – +8 per cent of refrigeration. We already have cold chain facilities in all local governments, constituencies and wards in the country.

“I must caution Nigerians that it is going to be a combination of vaccines with non-pharmaceutical measures.

“Non-pharmaceutical measures will remain in place, wearing of masks, keeping of social distancing, the need for personal hygiene and taking responsibility to ensure that we do not congregate in large gatherings and avoid travels that are not necessary. ”

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mutahi Kagwe, said the country will get 1.25 million doses of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine on Tuesday and vaccinations are expected to start immediately.

Kagwe said priority will be given to front line health workers and the elderly.

Ivory Coast on Monday became the first country to roll out vaccines offered by Covax programme.

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