Faizel Patel – 03/01/2021
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize say the COVID-19 vaccine needs to be made available to all South Africans, starting with frontline workers and the most vulnerable.
Mkhize was addressing the media on Sunday on Government’s Coronavirus vaccine rollout strategy.
Last year President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country will be put under an adjusted level three lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19.
South Africa is one of around 200 countries who have joined the pooled procurement for the coronavirus vaccine, commonly known as COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Mkhize says the only way to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic is the provision of immunity through vaccination adding that he wants to assure the public that government is very mindful of the urgency of procuring the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We are targeting minimum of 67% of the population to achieve herd immunity and the approach will be a phased rollout of the vaccine beginning with the most vulnerable in our population. Essential workers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities will be targeted in phase two. 40.3 million citizens will be targeted in the vaccination process. Additionally we have embarked on Public Private Partnerships with very good outcomes and we have approached medical aids to be part of the co-financing.”
Mkhize says vaccine candidates for the country include Pfizer, Moderna, Astrazeneca, the Russian and Chinese vaccines.
He says there are non-disclosure agreements (NDA) that have been signed with manufacturers and therefore he cannot provide details.
“The process is now at a stage where the Council for Medical Schemes has engaged various medical schemes and I have signed amendments of regulations to allow for vaccines and other therapeutics to be part of the prescribed minimum benefits.”
Mkhize says government is targeting February for the first COVID-19 vaccine rollout, adding that it depends on current negotiations.