AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER
HOURS after South Africa received its first COVID-19 vaccine doses, the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa revealed plans for the country to receive over 42- million doses.
In a special address to the nation, Ramaphosa unveiled the different sources for a vaccine that is key to the country’s fight against COVID-19, which has infected over 1.3-million South Africans and killed over 40 000.
He said in addition to the one million Covishield does received yesterday, South Africa expects:
- 500,000 doses from the Serum Institute of India to arrive later in February.
- 12 million doses in total from the global COVAX facility, which has indicated that it will release approximately 2 million doses by March.
- 9 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, commencing with delivery in the second quarter. Johnson & Johnson has contracted Aspen, one of our pharmaceutical companies, to manufacture these vaccines in South Africa.
- Pfizer has committed 20 million vaccine doses commencing with deliveries in the second quarter.
Ramaphosa said: “We are in advanced negotiations with manufacturers to secure additional supplies. South Africa will also receive an allocation of vaccine doses through the African Union, which has been negotiating with manufacturers to secure vaccines for the entire continent on a pooled basis.
“Through the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team of the African Union, we have to date secured 1 billion vaccines for the entire continent. Seven hundred million of these will come from the global COVAX facility and 300 million have been facilitated by the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team.”
Ramaphosa said SA’s objective is to secure enough doses to achieve ‘herd immunity’, also known as ‘population immunity’.
“This is when enough of the population is immune to the virus to provide indirect protection to those who are not immune. This should bring the spread of the virus under control. Our scientists estimate that we will likely reach herd immunity once around 67 percent of our people are immune. This amounts to around 40 million people in South Africa.
“We will leave no stone unturned in our efforts to make sure that enough vaccine doses are secured to reach population immunity in our country. The vaccines that we are procuring have gone through meticulous, multi-stage testing processes, including large trials involving thousands of people.
“In addition to determining their effectiveness, these trials are also designed to identify side effects and safety concerns. Independent regulators then review the data from these trials to ensure they are not harmful. The vaccines that we are procuring have been shown to be safe in large clinical trials across multiple countries.”
He also announced that other vaccines will be donated by various private sector companies to add to the vaccines that Africa needs.
“MTN, which is one of our companies that operates across a number of countries on the African continent, has made a donation of $25 million to procure 7 million vaccines, which will be made available to countries on the African continent within a matter of weeks. I would like to applaud MTN for this generous donation and I call upon private sector companies to follow the example of MTN.
“A considerable amount of work has been done with the private sector and I am pleased that there is strong commitment to support every aspect of the national vaccine rollout effort. This includes funding when needed, logistics, distribution and administration. This has manifested in tight collaboration between the public and private sectors through a range of work streams meeting daily to achieve a successful rollout,” Ramaphosa said.
The South African president, who is also chairperson of the African Union, disclosed that all Africans living in South Africa will receive the vaccine.
“We all want to be free of this disease. We all want to be safe, and for those we love to be safe. We aim to make the vaccine available to all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence status.
“We will be putting in place measures to deal with the challenge of undocumented migrants so that, as with all other people, we can properly record and track their vaccination history. It is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible.”
Ramaphosa said no one would be forced to take the COVID-19 vaccine.
“I want to be clear. Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated. Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret. Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous.”