The Co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, says scientists are trying to establish whether people who have been vaccinated can still transmit the coronavirus.

This as healthcare workers across the country continue to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

South Africa has recorded 1 503 796 coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic and 49 053 COVID-19 related deaths.

Karim says scientists are assessing how herd immunity can become a viable option.

“We have to know whether people who are vaccinated can spread the virus. So we know people who are vaccinated do become infected – they get asymptomatic infections or very mild infections. What we don’t know is the extent to which they transmit the virus.”

“If vaccinated people are transmitting the virus, then herd immunity will be very difficult to get to. If vaccinated people can get infected but don’t transmit in any significant way, then herd immunity becomes a viable option,” adds Karim.

Demand for COVID-19 vaccine

The Department of Health says there is a surge in demand for the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that South Africa has begun rolling out.

The vaccine provides 57% protection against moderate to severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease, and 100% protection against death, based on evidence from the clinical trials that included South African participants.

More than 10 000 healthcare workers nationwide have so far received their doses.

Dr. Nisha Jacob reacts to COVID-19 vaccine rollout in SA: