Initial COVAX vaccine to cover 10% of population

Johannesburg – South Africa is set to receive initial vaccines from the COVAX facility to cover 10% of its population in the early part of 2021.

President Cyril Ramaphosa made this announcement during his address to the nation on Monday, on developments in relation to the country’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The address follows meetings that took place on Sunday 13 December 2020, of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC), and a special sitting of Cabinet.

The President informed South Africans that government concluded all the necessary processes to ensure its participation in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility.

“This facility – known as COVAX – pools resources and shares vaccine development risk to ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available.

“As part of this facility, it is expected that South Africa will receive initial vaccines to cover 10% of our population in the early part of next year,” he said.

In addition to the COVAX vaccine, South Africa is also part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team that is looking at alternative financing mechanisms to secure additional vaccines for African countries beyond COVAX.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is part of this Task Team and is also looking at innovative partnerships with the private sector to ensure that South Africans have access to an effective vaccine that is suitable to local conditions.

The President’s announcement on the country’s efforts at securing a vaccine, comes as the country battles a second wave of infections as it enters the festive season.

To date, over 38,000 health workers in the public sector have tested positive for the virus. Of these, nearly 5,000 were admitted to hospital. Sadly, 391 health workers in the public sector have passed away.

Celebrating the festive season responsibly

With the daily average of new cases nationally over the last seven days 74% higher than the previous seven days, the President made an impassioned plea to South Africans to celebrate the festive season in a different way.

“This period will require each of us to do things differently to previous years because this year is unlike any other we have lived through before.

“It will require us to give up some short-lived pleasures to protect ourselves and others, and to ensure that we can enjoy such times together in future years,” said the President.

Having implemented a curfew, limited alcohol sales and prohibited festivals as beaches, in a bid to contain the spread of infections, the President urged South Africans to adhere to the health regulations during this period.

“This festive season, I am asking you to keep your celebrations small and to avoid crowds. I am asking you to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever in public, or in the company of people you don’t live with,” he urged.

The President further called on the nation to continue maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing measures.

“I am convinced that if we each play our part, if we each follow the few basic precautions, then we can all have a joyful festive season – and, most importantly, we can all have a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

“I wish you all a blessed festive season, that you may remain safe and in good health, and that we may welcome in the new year as one united and resolute nation,” he said.

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