Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize says that while it is still early days they have undertaken to get involved and invest in the development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Currently we are participating in the ChAdOx-1 study and in the COVAX project to be part of the global research initiatives as well as the access to vaccine programmes, ” the minister said.

Mkhize adds that they would like to pursue the possibility of manufacturing vaccines locally.

The Health Minister was giving an update on vaccines during his media briefing on COVID-19 on Wednesday morning.

“We want to participate in the trials and have started on some.  We are involved in discussions with the Global Alliance on Vaccine initiatives as well as few other manufacturers of the vaccine to look at what is possible for South Africa at this point.”

Containment measures

Earlier in his update, the Health Minister said that containment measures – masks, washing of hands, sanitizing, and social distancing – has helped to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Mkhize says, “Our biggest challenge is going to be is this going to be maintained or sustained? Whether we sustain it or not is going to depend on whether everyone else can join in and start using masks and reducing distances and reducing funerals to 50 people and making sure that everyone washes hands.”

The peak of the virus was less than expected says the Minister.

However, if no containment measures are maintained we could see a second surge of COVID-19.

WHO Experts in SA

The World Health Organisation (WHO) will be sending 43 senior experts from across the globe to South Africa. The first 17 experts will arrive in South Africa sometime on Wednesday and will complete a period of quarantine and initiation before being deployed in the department and other provinces.

The full media briefing by the Health Minister: