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Arrival of vaccine doses will help SA win war against COVID-19

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The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccine doses in South Africa clearly demonstrate government’s commitment to win the war against the deadly Covid-19, says President Cyril Ramamphosa.

On Monday afternoon, President Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza officially received the first batch of one million Astrazeneca vaccine doses at OR Tambo Airport from India.

“The arrival of these vaccines contains the promise that we can turn the tide on this disease that has caused so much devastation and hardship in our country and across the world.

“The speed and scale at which new vaccines have been developed is unprecedented in human history and represents the monumental progress that humanity can achieve in the face of a common threat.

“South Africa has been part of this incredible journey by the global community in search of a lasting solution to the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Addressing the nation on Monday evening, President Ramaphosa said the consignment; consisting of one million doses of the Covishield, vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India was developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford.

South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the drug’s efficacy.

According to the President, the vaccines will be tested at the National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation.

After testing, he said they would be distributed across the country to thousands of healthcare workers who every day put their own lives at risk to save others.

Healthcare workers to be prioritised

The President said when the country kick-start the vaccination campaign, all healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors will be prioritised for vaccination.

“The provincial health departments have submitted their distribution plans and we have identified about 200 facilities to which the vaccines can be distributed.

“Once we have completed the vaccination of healthcare workers, we will move to Phase 2 of the national vaccine strategy, which will include essential workers, people over 60 years, people with co-morbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels. In Phase 3, we will extend the vaccination programme to the rest of the adult population,” he said.
Electronic Vaccine Data System

The Department of Health has developed an Electronic Vaccine Data System to streamline the vaccine registration and rollout process.

This according to President Ramaphosa will allow government to capture all relevant data associated with the administration of the vaccine.

“This system allows a person to make an appointment as soon as they qualify for a vaccination at the vaccine centre closest to them. The system will record vaccinations as they are administered,” he said.

Sourcing more vaccine for SA

In addition to the 1 million Covishield doses received on Monday, the President said the country is expecting another 500,000 doses from the Serum Institute of India to arrive later in February.

“We have secured 12 million doses in total from the global COVAX facility, which has indicated that it will release approximately 2 million doses by March.

“We have secured 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.

“In addition, Pfizer has committed 20 million vaccine doses commencing with deliveries in the second quarter,” he said adding that government is in advanced negotiations with manufacturers to secure additional supplies.