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KZN takes gradual approach to Phase 2 Covid-19 vaccination campaign

SOUTH AFRICA - Durban - 17 May 2021 - People queeing in a long lines outside the vaccination site at Pinetown Civic hall yesterday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

SOUTH AFRICA - Durban - 17 May 2021 - People queeing in a long lines outside the vaccination site at Pinetown Civic hall yesterday. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 18, 2021

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DURBAN - KWAZULU-NATAL Health MEC Nomagugu Simelane said KZN was ready for Phase 2 of the vaccination roll-out that will focus on people over the age of 60 and health-care workers.

The MEC was speaking during a briefing on Phase 2 of the mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign by the National Health Council, led by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, on Sunday night.

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Simelane said KZN was ready to start with Phase 2 of the vaccination, using a phased-in approach starting yesterday.

She said close to 100 000 health-care workers had been vaccinated, leaving 60 000 still to be vaccinated.

“We believe that those will be concluded in the next seven days and that process will run parallel to the Phase 2 start of the vaccination,” she said.

Simelane said the department had identified more than 600 vaccination sites in the province, most of which would be used when the roll-out was at full capacity and up to Phase 3.

These included community halls and community centres that would be used later in the year, she said.

The MEC said 27 vaccination sites would initially be phased in.

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“The first 27 sites have been prepared for this purpose and those include our own facilities as the Department of Health. In other words, all the hospitals and community health centres in the province will be utilised,” she said.

Simelane said the full list of sites would be made public.

All 11 districts, including the metro hospitals, would be ready, she added.

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“We also want to make a call that unless you have been invited, please do not come, but those who do come will be assisted on site and we have a number of programmes assisting the elderly on how to register,” the MEC said.

Simelane said old-age homes in the province would be visited to conduct vaccinations.

It was unclear how the first day of vaccinations had gone in the province yesterday as the KZN Health Department had not responded by the time of publication to a request for information about how many over-60s had been vaccinated, and for the list of sites that were conducting the vaccinations.

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Mkhize said people living in oldage homes would not receive an SMS message because the vaccine would be brought to them.

“They will be registered and vaccinated in their old-age homes. We are targeting about 7 700 senior citizens living in 102 old-age homes by the end of the week, and 50 000 citizens documented in old-age homes will be completed by the end of May,” he said.

Mkhize said on Sunday that over 7 000 SMSes had been sent to healthcare workers and 4 288 SMSes to citizens 60 years and older.

“To date, over 1.2 million senior citizens and over 914 000 health-care workers have registered on EVDS (the electronic vaccine data system). This means that over 2.1 million citizens have registered to date,” he said.

Mkhize advised that when people go to get vaccinated they must take proof of identity such as an ID card or book, driving licence or passport, while people who belong to a medical aid scheme should also take their medical aid card or other details. “If you miss your vaccine appointment for any reason, you will be rescheduled, that is, given another date and time to be vaccinated,” he said.

The minister and the MEC are launching Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme at the Royal Agricultural Showgrounds in Pietermaritzburg today.

SUPPORTERS of a proposal to waive patent rights on Covid-19 vaccines at the World Trade Organization (WTO) are set to call on opponents to join the negotiations, stressing the gravity of the pandemic, a draft document showed yesterday.

Talks at the WTO on temporarily waiving Intellectual Property (IP) rights have been deadlocked for months. But US President Joe Biden’s decision earlier this month to back talks for a waiver has raised hopes that the few remaining wealthy-country opponents could also switch camps.

The EU has since backed a US proposal to discuss waiving patent protections, although Switzerland said it left many questions unanswered.

“The co-sponsors call on all delegations who have not yet indicated that they will join text-based discussions, to do so as soon as possible,” the 62 proponents of the waiver, including India and South Africa that initially floated the proposal, said in a coauthored draft statement.

“Continuous mutations and emergence of new variants of Sars-Cov-2 highlight the significant uncertainties and complexities of controlling SarsCov-2 and underscore the urgency of this proposal,” they said.

“A failure to respond in a timely manner on the waiver proposal undermines the legitimacy and credibility of the WTO.”

That call was echoed by the WTO’s chief yesterday.

“We need to sit down at the negotiating table and actually look at a text. People are dying, and the faster we can sit down and look at a text the better,” said Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at a virtual meeting of the Paris Peace Forum.

India’s and South Africa’s original waiver proposal last October argued that IP rules were hindering the scale-up of Covid-19 vaccine production. Critics, including large pharmaceuticals industry groups as well as Pfizer that makes a Covid-19 vaccine, say an IP waiver will not immediately increase vaccine production and that the supply issues are more complex.

Pfizer has said any waiver could disrupt the flow of raw materials.

The statement from proponents seen by Reuters said that a new proposal would be issued soon to clarify its scope and the time period of its application.

However, experts have warned that getting agreement at the WTO, which typically operates through consensus, could still take months even with US backing.

The next formal TRIPS council meeting at the WTO is scheduled for June 8.

THE MERCURY

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