SA will have enough doses for all who need a vaccination, says Zweli Mkhize
Government identifies 20 sites across SA where 80,000 people will be vaccinated in two weeks
The government has identified 20 vaccination centres across SA's nine provinces to inoculate 80,000 health-care workers over the next two weeks, as the country begins its Covid-19 vaccine rollout this week.
This is according to health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, who on Tuesday was addressing a joint sitting of parliament to debate President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona).
He provided an outline of how the distribution would work. This as the Covid-19 death toll reached 48,094 people.
Mkhize said 164 vaccinators would vaccinate about 48 clients each a day — about six an hour. As many as 380,000 health workers registered for Covid-19 jabs in the past two weeks.
In his Sona last Thursday, Ramaphosa announced that the country had successfully secured nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with the delivery of the first batch of 80,000 on course and vaccinations to begin this week.
Mkhize said on Tuesday that plans to procure more vaccines for everyone in the country had materialised.
“Critically, an additional 500,000 doses are expected to arrive over the next four weeks, supplemented by another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that is expected to be received at the end of March 2021. I can also say that we have secured enough doses to vaccinate all the people who will need to be vaccinated in SA,” said Mkhize.
Unlike the AstraZeneca vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson version, whose efficiency is above 50%, was found to be protective against serious illness and death.
“I would like to take the opportunity of settling the matter of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout because it must be understood that our sole purpose is to save lives and protect our health-care workers. First, it is without dispute that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has a 57% efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant and is fully protective against serious illness or death,” said Mkhize.
He hailed the Medical Research Council team, led by Prof Glenda Gray, the officials at the national health department, led by the director-general Dr Sandile Buthelezi, and Johnson & Johnson for “essentially working a miracle” to ensure that rollout plans are were not derailed.
Mkhize said his department had noted calls for the country to create its own Covid-19 tools and vaccines.
“It is for this reason that we have been engaging our Brics partners and the government of Cuba to collaborate in a technology-sharing exercise that will see us advancing towards independence and self-reliance in a future where there will be more public health threats,” he said.
Ramaphosa was this week expected to announce the date and time of the first vaccinations, according to Mkhize.