With the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) having approved the use of the Chinese-produced vaccine Sinovac earlier this month, President Cyril Ramaphosa says government is working to bring the Covid-19 vaccine into the country’s vaccination programme.
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday night, where he announced the extension of South Africa’s adjusted Alert Level 4 lockdown for another 14 days.
Infections in SA extremely high
The President indicated that as things stood to date, Covid-19 infections in the country remains “extremely high”.
“With the fast-spreading Delta variant, we are experiencing a third wave that is more severe than the first and second waves.
“For the last two weeks, the country has consistently recorded an average of nearly 20,000 daily new cases. At present, the country has over 200,000 active Covid-19 cases. In the last two weeks over 4,200 South Africans have lost their lives to Covid-19,” he said.
He said Gauteng accounted for more than half of new infections in that period, while infections were increasing at a rapid pace in the Western Cape, Limpopo, North West, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
“Our health system countrywide remains under pressure. By next week, daily hospital admissions across the country are likely to reach the levels observed during the peak of the first two waves.
“Covid-19 related deaths in hospitals are also increasing, and have surpassed those observed at the peak of the first wave,” the President continued to say.
Ramaphosa also welcomed Saphra’s approval of the Sinovac vaccine.
“The Vaccine Advisory Committee is working on how soon we can bring CoronaVac into the vaccination programme,” he said.
The ‘Sinovac Vaccine’ is the popular name given to the CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinovac Life Sciences of China.
The President said government was working to protect as many people as possible through vaccination.
“Our national vaccination programme is expanding at a rapid pace. To date, over 4.2 million people in South Africa have received a vaccine dose, with one million of these having been done so over the past seven weekdays.
“The pace of vaccination has more than doubled in the last month and will continue to increase. Presently, nearly 190,000 people are on average being vaccinated each weekday.”
He further said government was also working to ensure that vaccination sites were located closer to where people live.
“Plans are in place in all provinces to expand many sites to vaccinate, either six or seven days of the week. This will be achieved by the provision of funds for overtime and the recruitment of additional medical staff and health science students.
“All those who qualify for vaccination are encouraged to pre-register to speed up the process at vaccination sites.
“However, all sites do also allow unregistered people to walk in and be registered. I want to encourage all South Africans who are eligible to register to do so and get their vaccine. We need to spread the message that vaccines work and that they are effective,” he added.