South Africa’s vaccine rollout plan which was launched by Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize is nothing but an aspirational goal, according to Professor of Vaccinology at the University of the Witwatersrand Dr. Shabir Madhi.
Speaking to SAFM, Madhi says the numbers as presented by Mkhize don’t add up if the country hopes to vaccinate 40 million people by the end of the year. This with the big assumption that SA might actually get a vaccine manufacturer that can provide 80 million doses of vaccine, added to the fact that most of the vaccines require two doses.
Breaking down the numbers, the plan aims to vaccinate from April 1 would mean that in the first month, South Africa would need to vaccinate about 150 000 people per day – and from the six months onwards, the country would need to vaccinate 300 000 people per day, this to reach the target of ensuring that 67% of the population receive the vaccine.
Madhi suggests that these aims are not realistic. “It’s further compounded by the fact that the vaccines are not actually authorized for use in children under the age of 16, which effectively means that the 40 million that we are referring to are adults in South Africa and will be vaccinated – 100% of adults to get 67% of the population vaccinated – even if that was possible and certainly it’s not possible for any country. The United States, the United Kingdom are struggling to vaccinate even 50 000 people per day. But the bigger problem is that there isn’t actually any vaccine to come our way to vaccinate 18 million doses or that’s going to come our way at this late stage of the game.”
Although South Africa is part of the COVAX vaccine scheme, this procurement will see the country purchase enough doses for just 10% of its population. The government has indicated they’ve now started bilaterals regarding the procurement of the vaccine to ensure that they bring the vaccine into the country as soon as possible, the government might have left it to a little too late according to Madhi.
“Let us be clear, starting bilateral after all of the vaccines that are going to be manufactured probably in the first six months – it’s not going to assist you in terms of getting a vaccine sooner. It’s going to get you getting much later than it really would have been required.”
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The African National Congress (ANC) president Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver the January 8 Statement virtually on Friday at 7 pm. The event will mark the party’s 109th birthday, which is usually held in different provinces in the country. The January 8 Statement paves way for the party’s plans for the year and provides a broad framework with the country’s president ahead of his State of the Nation Address next month.
South Africa’s second wave of coronavirus infections continue its massive upward climb.
Data from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) shows that the resurgence has hit the country’s battle against the virus hard – with 274 606 cases registered in just seven weeks between 15 November to date.
The number represents 27% of the country’s total COVID-19 since the first case was detected on 6 March 2020.
With more than a million infections, the country continues to experience a severe strain as the cases, driven by a new variant, climb rapidly.
Young people are cited as the key drivers in the increase of COVID-19 cases in South Africa amid the second wave. According to the NICD research, youth between the ages of 15-34 accounted for just over 39% of total cases recorded from 13-19 December 2020. This upward trend has escalated with more than 50 000 new cases reported since Christmas Eve.
COVID-19 infections by age
As the second wave gathers momentum, South Africans have been warned to brace themselves for a further surge in coronavirus cases.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has reiterated a call for people to take health and safety protocols seriously.
“This wave has come up quite unpredictably. In the first instance we didn’t have any clear models that showed us that it won’t be coming so soon. We knew that we could not avoid it. We knew that in many countries it turned out to be much more severe and affected more people than the second wave. Now we are in the middle of it and we are still going to be a few weeks in it and I think it is important for people to understand that they need to take this very seriously.”
Suggestions have been that youth between the ages of 15 and 19 are likely to be those mainly affected. Although they may be mostly asymptomatic, concerns are that they could easily infect older, more vulnerable family members.
Concerns have also arisen over the positivity rate of the virus.
On Tuesday, Zweli Mkhize announced that the overall positivity for the newly tested individuals is 32.9%.
Experts are worried that it has skyrocketed threefold over as government previously set a positivity rate benchmark of 10%.
They say a higher percent positive suggests higher transmission and that there are likely more people with coronavirus in the community who haven’t been tested yet. It also means that more testing should probably be done.
A factor that has been acknowledged by Mkhize.
He says the health department is increasing testing for COVID-19, with Gauteng expected to experience a massive wave of infections next week.
“We are worried that in the next week the wave is going to be the biggest in Gauteng and that is a matter of concern for us. We are increasing the testing so that people can be separated quickly as to whether they have COVID or not, but people must come and seek assistance so that we can detect early and help to prevent the spread of the infections,” Mkhize told the media.
Cases since 1 November 2020