80 000 J&J vaccines on the horizon as SA inches closer to 1.5m Covid infections
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Johannesburg - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced 237 more Covid-19 related deaths and 2488 new infections on Thursday night, as South Africa inches closer to 1.5 million infections since March last year.
This takes South Africa’s Covid-19 infections to over 1.48 million infections since March, with the death toll now at 47 382 coronavirus related deaths.
Earlier on Thursday night, while delivering the State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the government would receive 80 000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine next week, with a further 500 000 doses of the same vaccine expected within the next four weeks.
“All provinces have roll-out plans in place as the first vaccines come through.
“I wish to thank all provinces for their level of preparedness for this massive undertaking that we are about to embark upon,” said Ramaphosa.
Johnson & Johnson will provide a total of 9 million doses and they will kickstart South Africa’s mass vaccination drive after government took a decision on Sunday to put the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold after questions arose over its efficacy in relation to the dominant 501Y.V2 variant, which is now the dominant and more infectious variant in South Africa.
It was identified by local scientists in December.
Ramaphosa also confirmed that South Africa was expecting 12 million vaccine doses from the Covax facility, 20 million doses from Pfizer and an undisclosed number of doses through the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team facility.
Commenting on the AstraZeneca vaccine saga, he said: “We applaud these scientists for leading this research and providing new evidence that is vital for guiding our response”.
The scientists had presented a study which showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine offered minimal protection from mild to moderate infection from the 501Y.V2 variant.
“Since this variant is now the dominant variant in our country, these findings have significant implications for the pace, design and sequencing of our vaccine programme,” he said.
Ramaphosa said the government was still talking with vaccine manufacturers about securing sufficient and suitable quantities required for the country.
“The health and safety of our people remains our paramount concern. All medication imported into the country is monitored, evaluated, investigated, inspected and registered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
“We will continue to use the science-driven approach that has served us well since the earliest days of the pandemic. The success of the vaccination programme will rely on active collaboration between all sectors of society,” he said.
“As we have overcome before, we will overcome again and rise,” said Ramaphosa.
Meanwhile, Mkhize said the number of recoveries in the country stands at over 1.37 million recoveries, which means there is a recovery rate of about 92.8% currently.
Mkhize said they had now tested over 8.6 million people in the private and public sector, with over 32 500 tests conducted in the past 24 hours.
Of the latest deaths, Mkhize said the majority of the deceased came from Gauteng, the EasternCape and KZN.
Latest Covid deaths by province:
Gauteng - 82
Eastern Cape - 46
KZN - 36
Free State - 25
Mpumalanga - 19
Western Cape - 17
Limpopo - 12