President Cyril Ramaphosa says despite the setbacks with the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in the country, the pace is picking up with up to 85 000 people now being vaccinated daily.

He says to date 2.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses have arrived in the country which will increase to 3.1 million by the end of the month.

Government has also received an indication from Johnson and Johnson that the 2 million doses that had to be destroyed at Aspen’s plant in Gqeberha will be replaced by the end of the month.

Ramaphosa says a statistic that provides hope is that only 64 healthcare workers have been infected in the last seven days compared to 640 at a similar point in the second wave.

Announcing that South Africa was moving back to lockdown Level 3 on Tuesday night, Ramaphosa said the roll out will be boosted considerably over the next few weeks.

“It is estimated that we have the capacity at present to vaccinate at least 150 000 people a day and we’re planning to increase that to 250 000 a day as soon as possible, I would prefer 300 000 a day, which we shall try and reach.”

South Africa moves to lockdown alert level 3: 

Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen has criticised the pace of the country’s vaccination programme, saying government’s plans to innoculate a large percentage of the nation are not yet clear.

The president said while the vaccination programme was gaining momentum, South Africa was far from reaching population immunity.

Steenhuisen has raised questions over government’s pace in procuring vaccines.

“I think government has a lot to answer for. The president is very good at throwing out big numbers but never explaining how we are going to get there. We are currently vaccinating 70 000 people per day. What is the path to vaccinating, suddenly in a couple of days, 250 000/300 000 as the president said he would like to do? There is clearly a problem with government’s procurement of the vaccine that has left many South Africans at great risk of contracting the virus. It would not have been if we had a successful vaccination programme.”