DURBAN: As the country enters phase two of its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out programme, Deputy President David Mabuza visited the Biovac Institute in Gauteng today.
The visit follows a decision by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Covid-19 Vaccines, chaired by the deputy president, to visit various sites established for the purpose of a vaccine roll-out.
The Biovac Institute is a public private partnership between the government and the Biovac Consortium, whose focus is on ensuring that the country has the required domestic capacity to respond to both local and regional vaccine needs.
This capability intent is in line with the work of the Capacity for Vaccine Development Workstream of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.
Mabuza was welcomed by chief executive of Biovac Morena Makhoana, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbuzdo Ntshavheni, Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation Buti Manamela and Deputy Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla, along with senior government officials.
Speaking during the visit, Mabuza said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being stored at the facility and is being distributed to various centres around the country.
"We have learnt today that the cold chain can be broken for some days and that will not alter the quality of the vaccine. This is the capability that we have as a country and Cabinet took a decision to improve this capability," he said.
Mabuza said the country will not need another storage facility.
On when he will be vaccinated, Mabuza said he plans to get vaccinated when he next visits a vaccine centre.
Biovac’s main activity is to import, label and distribute vaccines to the South African market. For example, it has supplied six vaccines made by international vaccine manufacturers for South Africa’s childhood immunisation programme. It also supplies other countries in the region.
SA’s second batch of vaccines arrived at the weekend and close to 70 000 people have already been inoculated against Covid-19.
In SA, 1 513 959 people have tested positive for Covid-19, while 50 077 have succumbed to Covid-19-related illnesses and nearly 1.5 million people have recovered.