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SA’s vaccination pace ‘steadily’ picks up

COVID-19 Vaccine
Vaccine/ Pexels

By Kaya 959 News

The pace of vaccinations in South Africa has steadily picked up.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said around 80 000 people were being vaccinated a day at over 570 vaccination sites in both the public and private sector.

“This number will grow rapidly in the weeks to come, as we aim to protect as many vulnerable people as possible,” he said during an address to the nation on Tuesday.

Ramaphosa further announced the country’s move to level 3 which sees further restrictions implemented around the curfew, gatherings and the sale of alcohol.

“Our first setback was that after the arrival of our first batch of vaccines, our scientists discovered that the AstraZeneca vaccine that we had procured from the Serum Institute of India did not provide sufficient protection against the variant that is predominant in South Africa,” he said.

He said SA had also been adversely affected by shortages in the global supply of vaccines, which has hampered vaccination programmes across Africa and in many other low- and middle-income countries.

480,000 workers receive J&J vaccine

He said after the AstraZeneca setback, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appeared to be the best option for our country as it protects against the variant, because it requires only a single dose and is easier to store and transport.

“However, the supply of Johnson & Johnson vaccines was held up by an investigation into contamination of ingredients at a supplier factory in Baltimore in the United States. Until now, our mass vaccination programme has therefore had to rely on the Pfizer vaccine, which requires two doses,” Ramaphosa said.

To date, 480,000 health workers have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as part of Phase One of the programme.

 As part of Phase Two, a further 1.5 million health workers and people over the age of 60 have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

This brings the total number of people who have received a vaccine dose to almost 2 million.

Johnson & Johnson issue resolved

Ramaphosa said the problems with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have now been resolved.

“As a result of these problems, 2 million doses that had already been produced are unusable. The Aspen plant in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is now able to go ahead and produce new doses,” he said.

The company has committed to significantly ramp up production and begin supplying the country within the next few days.

 “We have to date received nearly 2.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses. By the end of June, we expect to have received a total of 3.1 million Pfizer doses. We have received an indication from Johnson & Johnson that it expects to deliver around 2 million vaccines to South Africa by the end of the month,” Ramaphosa said.

The initial doses received from Johnson & Johnson will be used to vaccinate teachers in schools and thereafter security personnel on the frontline.

“Now that the delays in the supply of vaccines is largely resolved, our immediate task is to complete the vaccination of all those over 60 years of age without delay. It is estimated that we have the capacity at present to vaccinate at least 150 000 people a day, and we are planning to increase that to 250 000 a day as soon as possible,” Ramaphosa said.

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