Watch our Covid-19 weekly round-up: SA secures enough vaccines for the rest of the year
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South Africa has secured enough Covid-19 vaccines to last for the rest of the year and the vaccine roll-out is set to substantially increase within the coming weeks, said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.
Within the next two to three months, the country is scheduled to receive around 31 million additional doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Ramaphosa said the number of vaccination sites is increasing, the vaccination registration system is improving to be more efficient, and vaccination capacity will increase over the weekends.
The increased rate of vaccination is made possible by improvements in the supply of vaccines.
Currently, the country is administering more than 240 000 vaccines every week day.
As a result, more than 6.3 million Covid-19 doses have been administered, with over 10% of the country’s population having received a shot.
Ramaphosa said walk-ins will be permitted where people will be able to present themselves at a vaccination site without an appointment, be registered and get vaccinated.
After a month of adjusted alert level 4 of the national lockdown, South Africa has been moved to level 3, which means schools can reopen and alcohol sales can resume.
Ramaphosa said in a state of the nation address on Sunday night that the latest figures suggest the county has largely passed the peak of the third wave of infections.
However, he said that some areas were not out of the woods yet, as the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape have continued to see a rise in cases. Gauteng, which was the epicentre of the third wave, has seen a decrease in cases.
Under alert level 3, the hours of curfew are from 10pm to 4am, restaurants, bars and fitness centres may be opened, gatherings will be permitted within limitations, alcohol sales resume from Monday to Thursday and alcohol may be sold for on-site consumption, and schools are reopened.
He added that from September 1, people between the ages of 18 and 35 will be allowed to get vaccinated. This will be in addition to the age groups that are currently eligible, which is everyone over 35 years of age.
The Biovac Institute, based in Cape Town, will become the first company in Africa to produce Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine and is aiming to start production in the second half of next year.
The local manufacturing company will not be producing the vaccines from scratch, but will import the drug substance from Pfizer BioNTech facilities in Europe, and will begin the “fill and finish” process early next year.
It is estimated that the annual production will exceed 100 million finished doses. All doses will exclusively be distributed within the 55 member states that make up the AU.
The World Health Organization last month announced that South Africa was set to host the messenger RNA Technology Transfer Hub – the continent's first Covid-19 vaccine production facility.
Biovac is set to immediately begin technical transfer activities which includes on-site development and equipment installation activities.
Chief executive of Biovac, Morena Makhoana, said the move is a critical step forward in strengthening sustainable access to vaccines on the African continent.
Keep an eye out next week for another round-up of the top Covid-19 stories.