South Africa set to begin COVID-19 vaccinations in February
The South African Government has outlined the country's COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan with vaccination likely to begin in February after being hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases.
Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize while giving an update on the government's COVID-19 vaccine rollout strategy on Sunday December 3, said they expect manufacturers to deliver COVID-19 vaccines as early as next month, and priority will be given to frontline care workers.
"We're trying as much as possible to get some vaccines to be available much before that date," said Mkhize.
"We are targeting February,” Dr. Zweli Mkhize said while cautioning that before that can happen negotiations must be concluded with vaccine makers including Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca, as well as with Russian and Chinese laboratories.
"All of that will depend on the success of current bilateral negotiations we're having with various companies," he added.
To finance its vaccine programme, the administration plans to seek help from the private sector as well as from the country’s main health insurers.
This comes a week after the South African government paid a deposit of 15.8 million euros to enter Covax, the mechanism for the equitable distribution of vaccines established by the UN World Health Organisation
But South Africa, by far the worst-hit country in the African continent, does not expect to receive the first vaccine doses under that programme until the second quarter of the year.
“It is clear that the second wave that we are going through is affecting us to levels which are even higher than in the earlier stage,” the minister said
“The only way to deal with the Covid-19 not only in South Africa but throughout the world is the provision of the immunity through the vaccination,” Mkhize added.
The country plans to vaccinate 67 percent of its population of 59 million people, in order to achieve sufficient collective immunity to contain the spread of the coronavirus.