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South Africa to receive first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines

By Oluwaseun Sonde

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The South African Government has confirmed that it will receive its first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Institute in India, claiming it’s the world’s largest vaccine producer.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa disclosed this on Sunday, he said it will signal the start of a mass vaccination campaign that will be the most ambitious and extensive in the country’s history.

According to him, “The vaccination campaign will reach all parts of the country and will be phased to ensure that those most in need are prioritised. The first vaccines to arrive will be provided to health care workers, targeted in the first phase.

“The second phase will include essential workers, teachers, the elderly and those with co-morbidities. The third phase will include other adults in the population”, he said.

Ramaphosa added that a comprehensive rollout strategy and an accompanying logistical framework will be implemented in partnership with the private sector, civil society, traditional leadership, the religious sector and others.

“A year after the novel coronavirus started spreading around the world, the arrival of the vaccine gives great hope for our country’s social and economic recovery – and, most importantly, for the health of our people”.

He noted that despite global demand for vaccine doses, combined with the far greater buying power of wealthier countries, South African Government had to engage in extensive and protracted negotiations with manufacturers to secure enough vaccines to reach adult population.

“We have also worked closely with the global COVAX facility and the African Union’s Vaccine Acquisition Task Team as part of the collective effort to secure vaccines for the world’s low- and middle-income countries.
 
“The doses that South Africa will receive through its participation in these initiatives, together with the agreements being made directly with manufacturers, should ensure that the country has sufficient vaccines to contain the spread of the virus”.

He stated that from the moment the coronavirus first reached South Africa shores in March last year, the Government has acted swiftly and decisively, and informed by the best available scientific evidence, to save lives and protect livelihoods.

“Through the measures we have taken, we have been able to contain infections, protect our health system and prevent an even greater loss of life.

“Understanding that vaccines are essential if we are to overcome the pandemic, government has been working, both through multilateral initiatives and direct negotiations with manufacturers, to ensure South Africa can make the best use of vaccines when they become available”.

He further said that South African Government recognise it is important that the public must be kept abreast of developments on vaccine acquisition at all times. “And government must be held to account for all the decisions it makes in this regard.

“Freedom of speech and open public debate are cornerstones of our democracy, as is the media’s right to scrutinise and interrogate all government’s policies and decisions.
 
“Throughout the pandemic, government has been open and transparent with the South African people on the health measures it is taking to secure our people’s safety.

“We have sought to explain all our decisions, to listen to people’s concerns and to continuously update the country on the state of the disease. When it comes to fighting a deadly pandemic like this, honesty and trust are just as valuable as any vaccine”, he said.

Moreover, he said through Government Communications, already embarked on an extensive communications campaign to educate the population about the COVID-19 vaccine, and to challenge many of the misconceptions in circulation.
 
“All of us need to be part of this national effort and not allow the spread of rumours, fear and mistrust. False information and fake news can and does put lives at risk.
 
“We all need to work together to build confidence in the vaccine, to demonstrate its effectiveness and its safety and to emphasise its vital importance in overcoming this deadly disease”, he said.





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