Mkhize announces SA to secure 1.5 million vaccine doses by end Feb
One million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) will arrive in January and 500,000 doses in February.
JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Thursday that South Africa would be receiving one million doses in January and 500,000 doses in February of a COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).
He gave parliamentarians more details on the proposed rollout plans for a COVID-19 vaccine.
“SII has given us permission to make a public announcement and start engaging with all relevant stakeholders in preparation for the roll out.
“As recently as yesterday, our teams from the National Department of Health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) were fine tuning and aligning all the regulations processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or regulatory impediments to activate this rollout.
“We are happy that the SII/AstraZeneca vaccine has already been approved by various regulators and is being rolled out in other countries. Therefore, as part of expediting the regulatory process, SAHPRA is applying reliance on that regulatory work.
Government estimates 1.25 million health workers will be prioritised across the public and private healthcare sector for this vaccine, with those who have close contact with patients getting the first doses.
In a statement, Mkhize said the process to attain the vaccine has been done properly and directly by the Department of Health.
"This strengthens the credibility of the process as all the negotiations and payment issues are managed directly by government with the manufacturer. We will now be engaging all relevant stakeholders in order to ensure there are no unnecessary delays or regulatory impediments to activate this rollout."
'PUBLIC NEED NOT PANIC'
Mkhize also said the nation did not need to panic about not getting the vaccine stocks it needed on time.
Government's vaccination plan has come in for some criticism in the last weeks.
But Mkhize said it was all under control: “We will manage this situation to the best of our abilities but also, we will be making sure that we bring vaccines as quickly as possible into South Africa. By the time we start the vaccination programme, we won’t be very far from many countries, we will actually be in line with many countries.”
Mkhize also gave more detail on plans to divvy up the vaccine stock that we will be getting to explain the proposed phased approach and confirming health workers will be at the front of the queue.
All those classed as essential to the functioning of society would be prioritised for the vaccine in the first round of the immunisation campaign, including teachers, law enforcement officials, retail food workers, and miners.
“When we talk about health workers, we are obviously talking about all the health workers who will be covered. Phase two will be the essential workers such as teachers, police, the military and other people who are working in settings where they are serving communities and risk exposure to the virus because of their services to the community,” Mkhize said.
Those at highest risk of adverse outcomes for instance people over 60 and anyone with comorbidities will also be prioritised.
Mkhize also reminded Members of Parliament the second wave was far worse than the initial one: “Gauteng is still rising and we believe that it’s going to be much higher than where we were in the last surge. KwaZulu-Natal has already doubled in the number of patients who have been admitted compared to before and the same situation has happened in the Western Cape.”
WATCH: Portfolio Committee on Health's Zoom Meeting, 7 January 2021