Many challenges face SA in getting Covid-19 vaccine
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Pfizer Inc has reported that analysis of trial data shows its vaccine is 95% effective, and the company is expected to apply for authorisation for a coronavirus shot, which is also being tested in South Africa, within days.
Earlier in the week, Moderna released its own results and announced it too expects to be able to apply for emergency authorisation of a vaccine in the U.S. within weeks.
And Oxford University said its vaccine, being developed with AstraZeneca Plc and with participation from South Africa, produced good immune responses in older adults, with further important findings from the final phase of trials expected within weeks.
However, experts warn that it will be months yet before a vaccine is rolled out, and possibly as late as the latter half of next year.
And even when a vaccine is released, South Africa will be among the last countries to get access to it as First World countries position themselves to get priority.
And when we eventually have access to it, there will still be the cost factor to be considered (R40 billion to vaccinate half the population is one estimate), along with our and the world's ability to handle the transport and distribution of a vaccine on a scale never contemplated before.
All of this is depressing news indeed, especially in South Africa where the rate of infection shows little sign of slowing down.
On Thursday Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced the detection of 2 514 new cases, while there were just under 3 000 new cases on Wednesday, and a shade under 2 000 the day before that.
What this means, for those who need reminding, and especially ahead of the hugely anticipated Black Friday, is that we are not out of the woods yet - not by a long shot.
Stores will put in place measures to keep people apart, as far as that is possible, but the default option should be to shop online. Only go in if there's no alternative, and then sanitise, wear a mask and keep apart.