As South Africans eagerly await the start of mass inoculations in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a lot of confusion around the procurement of the vaccines and how they will be distributed and administered once they arrive in the country.
Mkhize is expected on Wednesday evening to host a public webinar on the first phase of vaccinations. He will be joined by health experts who will be addressing questions on vaccines.
Here’s what you need to know so far about SA’s Covid-19 vaccination programme:
- Government has a vaccine purchase agreement with the Serum Institute of India (SII), which has been bulk producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
- The first batch of the vaccines, 1.5 million doses, is expected to arrive in South Africa before the end of January. Government is also expecting another 500,000 doses to be flown out in February.
- Vaccinations will be rolled out in three phases over a period of 12 months to cover 40% of the population. However, there are no fixed timelines for the particular phases.
- Healthcare workers will be prioritised in the first phase of the vaccination programme. The second phase will see the vaccines being administered to other essential workers and vulnerable citizens such as the elderly or those with comorbidities.
- The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has already given the Department of Health the green light to procure the Covid-19 vaccine from the SII.
- Government is targeting 67% of the population to be vaccinated in order to achieve population immunity, also known as herd immunity.
- South Africa has so far secured 1.5 million vaccine doses from AstraZeneca, 12 million from the UN’s Covax programme, and nine million from Johnson & Johnson.
- According to Professor Salim Abdool Karim, whose part of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, the vaccines will be administered free of charge.
Meanwhile, what is not known yet is whether a cargo plane that landed at OR Tambo International airport on Tuesday contains SA’s vaccines.
Planespotter forums are abuzz after an unusual charter cargo plane from Mumbai landed in the country and speculation by enthusiasts, who track the movements of planes as a hobby in closed Whatsapp and Facebook groups, is that this arrival could be carrying the first batch of South Africa’s keenly-awaited vaccines, or material relating to the vaccines.
Authorities are mum on this so far though.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.