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First batch of COVID-19 vaccines en route to SA

31 January 2021, 1:30 PM  |  Neha Poonia  | 

The first shipment of India-made COVID-19 vaccines have left the country and the countdown to their arrival in South Africa has officially begun.

South Africa has been the worst hit by the pandemic on the African continent, with more COVID-19 cases reported so far.

The country saw a big surge in infections earlier this month, driven by a new, more contagious variant of the virus called 501Y.V2.

There’s hope, however, as tens of thousands of tiny, life-saving vials are finally on their way to the country. On Sunday, at 10 am local time, the first 1 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine flew out of Mumbai, in western India.

After making a brief pit-stop in Dubai the vaccines are now being flown to South Africa directly. This will be the first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in South Africa. The country plans to start administering the vaccine a week after the shots arrive. In the latter half of February — another 500 000 doses will be flown out of India.

South Africa has bought these vaccines from the Serum Institute of India – the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer by volume.

Experts say that as a vaccine powerhouse, India makes 60% of the world’s vaccines and it has a responsibility to help nations who are struggling to inoculate their citizens.

Below is a discussion on the vaccine:

Jabs limited to SA citizens

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has said only South Africans will be getting the jabs. He says government does not have the capacity to assist undocumented foreign nationals.

“No one will be forced to vaccinate. Actually, we will promote it, we will explain for people to know it’s beneficial and we would like people to take their own decision on that and when you take the vaccine you sign consent so it’s clear that you consented to it.

“All you need when you go is to show that you have got an ID. You are a South African registered voter. For those who are undocumented, we are not able to deal with that because at the moment we would like to be able to deal with people based on the SA registration. So at this point, we have no plan to deal with those that are not documented,” Dr Mkhize explains.

The Health Minister adds that pregnant women and newborns will not be vaccinated for now because they didn’t participate in trials to determine the safety of the vaccine.

Mkhize elaborates on the matter in the video below:

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