Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has expressed disappointment over delays in government’s vaccination programme, but says the province is prepared to roll out the coronavirus vaccine, once it becomes available for distribution in South Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that the first batch of 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will arrive in the country next week, with further consignments expected in the next four weeks.
This after the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine was put on hold due to a small scale study that found it had a far lower efficacy against mild and moderate diseases caused by the 501Y.V2 variant.
Speaking during a media briefing in Johannesburg, Makhura urged residents to continue exercising COVID-19 health protocols, while the province waits for the vaccine roll out.
SA inoculation plans off to a shaky ground:
“We must continue to do what we have been doing – non-pharmaceutical interventions – because the vaccination programme will take longer and we can’t just abandon all those measures. The reason the vaccination programme is going to take longer is the story that we know,” urges Makhura.
“We were ready on the 10th to launch our vaccination programme. I must say that the people of our province are very disappointed that we did not launch that programme, which is understandable,” he adds.
Debate on AstraZeneca’s effectiveness
A World Health Organisation (WHO) panel said on Wednesday the AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective and should be deployed widely, including in countries where a new variant of the coronavirus may reduce its efficacy.
In interim recommendations on the shot, the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) said the vaccine should be given in two doses with an interval of 8 to 12 weeks, and should also be used in people aged 65 and older.
“The intention as we understand it from South Africa is to proceed with the use of the Astrsazeneca vaccine in the context of collecting in a very dedicated way and a well designed way collecting the kind of information that is needed in order to fill in some of the gaps in information around severe disease for this product with the variant that is circulating. We will be doing everything possible to support South Africa,” said WHO’s Dr Katherine O’Brien.
WHO briefs media on the use of COVID-19 vaccine: