Cape Town – In the coming weeks the vaccination rate in South Africa will substantially increase, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday.
“We are increasing the number of vaccination sites and improving the vaccination registration system. We will also increase our vaccination capacity on weekends,” Ramaphosa said.
“We will now allow people between the ages of 18 and 34 to be vaccinated from the 1st of September 2021... We are now able to allow people to present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment and be registered and vaccinated.”
Ramaphosa addressed the nation on Sunday and announced that South Africa was moving to adjusted level 3 lockdown.
He said the increase in the rate of vaccination was made possible by improvements in the supply of vaccines.
In the next two to three months, South Africa is scheduled to receive around 31 million additional doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, he said.
“This supply pipeline means that there will be sufficient vaccine doses available for the rest of the year,” he said adding that progress was made to address the challenges faced in access to vaccines in Africa.
“As a result of our negotiations with pharmaceutical companies and various developed economy governments have, our country and our continent has been able to secure vaccines and is able to manufacture vaccines on our continent.”
He said from October, Aspen based in Gqeberha, Eastern Cape, will be manufacturing vaccines solely for the African continent.
A few weeks ago the World Health Organization chose South Africa as hub for the manufacture of vaccines, he said.
“A few days ago, the Biovac Institute in Cape Town was appointed to manufacture the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for distribution within Africa,” Ramaphosa said.
“While there is ample supply of vaccines for the short term, we must ensure that this supply is delivered on time and without disruption,” he said.
“It is also important to monitor the emergence of new variants and to secure access to future vaccines that are adapted to these variants.”
Ramaphosa said that the country has to contain the spread of the coronavirus and limit its impact on economic activity by accelerating the vaccination programme.
He said the aim was to vaccinate the vast majority of adult South Africans before the end of the year.
“The coronavirus pandemic is the greatest threat to the lives and health of our people and to the recovery and transformation of our economy,” he said.
“Accordingly we need to continue to do everything in in our means to contain the spread of the virus.
The latest figures suggest that we have largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because the rates of infection have not yet shown signs of decline.”
The National Health Department on Sunday reported 9 718 new Covid-19 cases and 287 deaths.
Ramaphosa said the average number of daily new infections over the last week was around 12 000 new cases a day, representing a 20% drop from the previous week.
He cautioned that in the last two weeks, the number of new infections in Gauteng – which has been the epicentre of the third wave – has steadily been declining, but daily new infections in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were rising.
“In all these cases, infections are being driven by the Delta variant, which as we said before is far more transmissible than previous variants,” he said adding that people need to continue adhering to the basic precautions to limit the spread of the virus.
“As we have always said, our most effective weapon in the fight against Covid-19 is an effective and comprehensive vaccination programme.”
He said that the vaccination campaign had made strides in the last few weeks, and was now administering more than 240 000 vaccines every week day, compared to the 100 000 a month ago.
“As a result, we have now administered more than 6.3 million vaccines, with over 10% of our population having received a vaccine dose,” he said.
Ramaphosa urged all South Africans to register for vaccination as soon as they are eligible.