Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says they are expediting the delivery of a coronavirus vaccine in South Africa and are pushing for a rollout in February. He was addressing an online media conference amid calls for government to rapidly make a vaccine available in South Africa.
The Minister says structures have been set up to expedite the rollout of the vaccine in South Africa.
Frontline healthcare workers and the most vulnerable are to receive the vaccine first.
The first doses of vaccine in terms of the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility had only been expected to be available in South Africa by around April.
COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Strategy for South Africa:
Mkhize has acknowledged that heard immunity via a vaccine is the only way to beat the virus. The Minister says the vaccine rollout is urgent.
“We want to assure the public that we are very mindful of the urgency, particularly as we feel the impact of the second wave that we are currently experiencing now. So everywhere you go, everyone can feel the pressure, I think all of us have a sense of personal anxiety where we now wish to know at which can we say we are safe from this kind of pandemic.”
Rapid increase in COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths
The CSIR’s Dr Ridhwaan Suliman has, meanwhile, noted a rapid increase in the average daily number of COVID-19 hospitalisations and deaths measured over the last week.
He says the number of hospital admissions in KwaZulu-Natal has increased by 27% and Gauteng by 44%, while admissions in the Eastern Cape have decreased by 23%. The average weekly deaths nationwide has jumped by 34% to 379 deaths per day.
KZN has shown an 85% increase in the number of deaths and Gauteng an increase of 140% over the past week. The Eastern Cape has again shown a decrease.
Dr Suliman has commented also on whether economic profiles of COVID-19 victims should be released.
“I think it would be very useful to look into other data and measures. I think what is probably more useful at the moment is a breakdown per age group; we have not seen that for a long time, particularly in terms of case numbers and the deaths. I think we can learn a lot from that. Beyond that, I think a breakdown in terms of gender would be really useful as well as race and demographics in general. Not to sort of isolate particular groups, but to try and understand maybe behavioural patterns and to take that into account by taking certain measures. So certainly the data would be useful in terms of analysing any particular trends.”
Dr Ridhwaan Suliman on South Africa’s COVID-19 situation as death toll reaches 29 175: