President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country has joined the WHO’s COVAX global COVID-19 vaccination distribution scheme.

As the race continues for a vaccine to be approved, President Ramaphosa says through the Solidarity Fund, South Africa has committed R327 million as an initial payment towards the purchase of a vaccine once it becomes available.

“We are participating in the WHO’s COVID-19 global vaccine access facility known as the COVAX facility. The Solidarity Fund will be making the initial contribution of R327 million towards this vaccine procurement on behalf of our country. We await confirmation from medicine regulators that these vaccines are safe. In South Africa, our own health regulatory authority will review the approval applications when received from the developers and authorise their use.”

Mandela Bay Metro declared hotspot

After a special sitting of Cabinet and the National Coronavirus Command Council, the government has declared the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro in the Eastern Cape a Coronavirus hotspot.

The Eastern Cape province has more than 11 000 active COVID-19 cases of which 80% are in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro with social gatherings identified as super-spreaders.

President Ramaphosa address on Thursday: 

Latest SA COVID-19 stats 

Meanwhile, South Africa has recorded 4 400 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of cases to date to 800 872. The country has also recorded 94 new COVID-19 related fatalities on Thursday.

In a statement, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says most of the new deaths were recorded in the Eastern Cape.

“42 deaths from Eastern Cape, 11 from the Free State, 8 from Gauteng, 5 from KwaZulu-Natal and 28 from the Western Cape,” says Dr Mkhize. This brings the total number of deaths to 21 803.

Recoveries now stand at 739 367.