Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says there is currently no vaccine for the coronavirus. This comes as the US gives the go-ahead to test a malaria drug called Chloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus.

Cases of the coronavirus continue to increase rapidly in South Africa, with the number currently sitting at 150 although no deaths have been reported.

 

Mkhize says some local medical professionals are part of the team that is working on developing a vaccine for the virus.

Speaking at a joint media briefing with the South African Medical Association in Pretoria on Thursday, the Health Minister says:

“People have spoken about anti-viral treatment and Chloroquine etc. We are aware that there’s a whole lot of trials that are going on including issues of vaccine which we need to be upfront say at the moment there is no vaccine available. Professor Helen Rees is part of the WHO team that is actually leading South African effort in the creation of the vaccine. So, in the next 18 months, we expect something should come through by way of the vaccine.”

Mkhize says the number of confirmed cases in South Africa is expected to reach 200 by Friday.

‘More test kits needed’

Mkhize says there are many more coronavirus test kits needed in the country as the department aims to conduct thousands of tests daily.

“We’re looking at how to increase the testing capabilities so that we can test as many people as possible. We have been talking about it that at this point, we’ve just probably got about 1200 tests and this 150 comes from that number. But we now need to start being ready to test a couple of thousands per day. And secondly, we need to also be able to increase the capability to have what we call drive-by testing and mobile testing capacity as it were.”