Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi, Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu and a panel of experts were expected to hold a media briefing on the progress of the government’s efforts in the fight against Covid-19, as well as an update on the national vaccination rollout programme today.
This after the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) said they received documentation for the Sinopharm vaccine developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group in China.
“Sahpra will now commence with evaluating the data in assessing the efficacy of the vaccine,” Sahpra said in a statement.
The EFF marched to the Sahpra offices on Friday to demand that Russia's Sputnik and China’s Sinovac vaccines be administered in the country.
The march has been criticised as it takes place during the third wave of the pandemic where gatherings have been sharply limited to prevent rising infections.
The EFF has been critical of the government’s handling of the vaccination programme saying more diverse vaccines should be procured. EFF leader Julius Malema said President Cyril Rampahosa could not continue imposing lockdowns and should instead be providing vaccines.
The party said it would follow Covid-19 regulations during today’s march.
DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said they decided to decline the EFF’s invitation to march, since it would be endorsing the “deeply irresponsible actions of the EFF who are placing the lives of South Africans in danger through a super spreader event”.
Gwarube said the reality was that the government had completely failed to rollout an effective vaccination programme since it began in February.
“The fact that under 2.5 million South Africans have received their jabs, when the target is 40 million people by year-end, is a massive indictment on the ANC government,” Gwarube said.
Health expert Dr Aslam Dasoo, from the Progressive Health Forum, said the EFF’s calls were political and premature.
“Sahpra has to what it is legally bound to do. I expect registration for those vaccines, which have already been approved by the WHO for emergency use, will pass muster here,” he said.
Earlier this week the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) provided a short-lived sigh of relief when they reported that there were less than 10 000 new Covid-19 cases in the country. By Wednesday night 7 493 new cases were reported.
On Wednesday, the first day of teacher vaccinations, 48 000 teachers and support staff were vaccinated. KwaZulu-Natal accounted for the majority with 21 773 vaccinations.
The day before, only 2 312 873 people had been vaccinated in the country - 1 833 105 had received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, while 479 768 were vaccinated under the Sisonke Protocol.
Meanwhile, in a parliamentary question, EFF health portfolio committee member Naledi Chirwa asked Kubayi about the number of vaccines the health department had procured so far, the names of the vaccines, and by what date the vaccines would arrive in the country.
Responding, she said the total number of vaccines contracted for, to date, was 73 million doses, which were sufficient to cover 47 million lives; which were Janssen AD26.COV2-S and Pfizer mRNA vaccine.
She said Janssen and Pfizer had given their estimated supply quantity quarterly, and they emphasised that dates and quantities may vary, depending on outputs at their manufacturing plants.
– 2.8 million doses by the end of June
– 9.1 million doses by the end of September (2021)
– 19.1 million doses by the end of December.
– 5 876 910 doses by the end of June
– 15 520 400 doses by the end of September
– 8 997 300 doses by end of December.