SOUTH Africa has secured 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine as the country aims to vaccinate about 40 million people, or 67% of the population, to achieve herd or population immunity.
This was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday evening, as he provided an update on government’s response to the COVID-19 and kept the country on alert level 3.
South Africa has recorded 190 000 new infections and 4 600 deaths since the beginning of this year.
Ramaphosa said the vaccine was procured through the World Health Organisation Covax vaccine facility, to which SA has already paid R283 million deposit, the African Union Vaccine Initiative as well as through direct negotiations with the seven vaccine developers and manufacturers.
Ramaphosa reiterated government’s priority list for those to be vaccinated, starting with healthcare workers, then essential workers including teachers, followed by adults with comorbidities, and the additional 22 million adults to make up the 40 million. Population immunity is when sufficient number of people are immune to indirectly protect those who may be vulnerable. For South Africa this level is thought to be 67%.
Reacting to Ramaphosa’s address, General Bantu Holomisa, leader of the United Democratic Movement, complained that opposition parties were not taken into confidence on the acquisition of vaccines.
He said opposition parties would soon request a meeting with Ramaphosa to get full briefing on the procurement of vaccines.
“We want him to brief us or send a delegation to brief us on vaccines”.
Holomisa said to ensure transparency, a special tender board consisting of the National Treasury, the Auditor General and South African Revenue Service should be formed.
“We don’t want politicians to be involved in tenders on the distribution of vaccines. We don’t want any DG to be part of the process” said Holomisa
Ramaphosa kept the county on level 3 with the restrictions announced on the 28th of December still on place. These include a ban on the sale of alcohol, which Ramaphosa singles out as contributing to a significant fall on trauma hospital admissions, prohibition of mass gatherings except funerals, which are limited to 50 people with Ramaphosa emphasising they can be super spreader events, and curfew adjusted by an hour at the end to start from 9 pm to 5am, probably in preparation for those returning to work.
Ramaphosa said guidance on the reopening of schools will be given in the next few days.
(SOURCE: INSIDE POLITICS)