Cape Town - South Africa has secured enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to administer 43 million jabs by the end of 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Sunday night.
The government has secured 11 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is in the process of securing 12 million vaccine doses from Covax, Ramaphosa said.
The president was updating the nation on the country’s risk adjusted strategy to curb the spread of the coronavirus. He announced that the country would immediately move from alert level 3 to alert level 1, with restrictions on public gatherings eased and the sale of alcohol permitted outside the hours of curfew.
On February 1, South Africa received a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, but these were subsequently shown to have very little efficacy against the 501Y.v2 variant of the coronavirus. This variant, which was first discovered in the Eastern Cape late last year, is now the dominant Covid-19 variant in the country.
Ramaphosa said on Sunday that in the 10 days since SA launched our coronavirus vaccination programme, more than 67 000 health workers – who are on the frontline of our fight against Covid-19 – have been vaccinated.
“A new batch of 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine arrived in the country yesterday, and we are steadily increasing the number of doses administered each day.
“The start of our vaccination campaign has gone extremely well. It has shown what we can achieve when we work together as government, the scientific community and the private sector.
“All provinces have established vaccination sites and have put in place plans for the expansion of the programme as it gains momentum,” the president said.
Ramaphosa also outlined plans to increase the number of vaccination sites from 17 to 49 next week.
“Of the 49 sites, 32 will be at public hospitals and 17 sites in private hospitals,” he said. “This includes sites in rural areas to improve access to rural health-care workers.”
Phase two of the vaccine roll-out is expected to commence between late April and early May, once all health workers have been vaccinated. Elderly people, essential workers, persons living or working in institutional settings and those with comorbidities will be inoculated during this phase.
“For this phase, we will be activating many more sites for vaccination in the public and private health-care sector so that we can reach as many people in the shortest possible time,” Ramaphosa said.
“We have recently signed an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to secure 11 million doses. Of these doses, 2.8 million doses will be delivered in the second quarter and the rest spread throughout the year. We have also secured 20 million doses from Pfizer, which will be delivered from the second quarter.
“Additionally, we have secured 12 million vaccine doses from the Covax facility and are in the process of finalising our dose allocation from the African Union,” the president said.
He cautioned South Africans to be extra vigilant and to practise social distancing and other government-recommended precautions to safeguard against the 501Y.v2 variant, which is much more virulent than most other Covid-19 variants.