South Africa has recorded 6 041 new coronavirus cases bringing the total number of cases to  1 423 578.  In a statement released on Tuesday evening, the Health Department has also reported 680 more COVID-19 related deaths.

“Eastern Cape 86; Free State 28; Gauteng 141; Kwa-Zulu Natal 306; Limpopo 4; Mpumalanga 18; Northern Cape 2 and Western Cape 95.”

This brings the total to 41 797 deaths. The cumulative total of tests conducted to date is 8 058 768 with 39 529 new tests conducted since
the last report.

The recoveries now stand at 1 254 674, representing a recovery rate of 88%.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has expressed concern about whether the COVID-19 variants discovered in Britain, South Africa and Brazil will influence the efficacy of the vaccines now being distributed.  

US manufacturer, Moderna, says it will add another dose to make the vaccine a threeshot regiment in order to boost its effectiveness.  

While many countries around the world have already begun vaccination programmes, South Africa expects its first batch of vaccines by the end of this month.  

WHO Director for Immunisation and Vaccine, Kate O’Brian, says the organisation is evaluating data and assessing any possible need for adjustments to the vaccines.  

“The only way to know how long the immunity that is induced is going to last is by continuing to follow people over time. There is the expectation that there will be durability of immunity, but I think we all have to recognise that the science is going to tell us whether or not additional booster doses might be needed. 

O’Brian says they are upbeat. 

 “I think what we are seeing now, we can be quite confident about. We like to see at least two weeks of continuous trend. When we look at the data we have right now, we reached our peak and I’m referring here to a sevenday moving average on the 8th of January. Since then, for the last 14 days or so, we have seen a continual and systematic decline in cases in most of our provinces. So, we are now … from all indicators, we (are) firmly on the downward slope. 

Vaccine

South Africa is soon to receive its first batch of the coronavirus vaccine.  Co-Chair of the COVID-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, Professor Salim Abdool Karim, says the COVID-19 vaccines being procured by the government will be administered free of charge.

With the first batch of vaccines expected to be delivered by the end of this month, Karim says the country is progressing past the peak of the second wave of infections, which now seems to be on a downward trend.

He says funding for the vaccines will come from Treasury and various medical aid schemes.

“The vaccines that are being purchased for COVID-19, they are being purchased centrally by the government. The vaccines, as far as I understand, are being provided free to anyone who is being vaccinated. The actual funding is coming from the Treasury and the medical aids are also contributing to the cost, but to the person receiving it, there is no cost at all.”

SA’s vaccine rollout strategy: