Covid 19: South Africa wants to vaccinate nearly 40 million South Africans by the end of the year

Until now, the South African government has been very discreet about its strategy to obtain doses and vaccinate its population against the new coronavirus, even though clinical trials are taking place in the country. A forum of scientific experts denounced this weekend the lack of clarity and information provided to the public on the negotiations undertaken by the government. Health Minister Zweli Mkhize finally came out of his silence on Sunday 3 January. He outlined his plans for the country.
Zweli Mkhize said he was aware of the urgency of the situation and intends to acquire enough vaccine for nearly 40 million South Africans by the end of the year: “We are aiming at a minimum vaccination target of 67% of the population to achieve herd immunity. These vaccines must be available by the end of 2021.’’
According to the Minister of Health, South Africa is already assured of receiving enough to vaccinate 10% of its population thanks to the Covax system by half of 2021. But for the rest, nothing has yet been signed with the laboratories: “We still have to find enough to vaccinate the remaining 57%. We are trying as much as possible to obtain doses before those of the Covax. We think we might be able to get some as early as February. But all this depends on the bilateral negotiations we are currently conducting with the various companies».
Discussions are underway with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and the Russian and Chinese governments. And once the doses have been purchased, the vaccination will be carried out in phases, according to Anban Pillay, Director General in charge of health regulations at the Ministry of Health: “The first stage will target health workers. Then, in a second stage, we will vaccinate essential workers, people over 60 years old, and adults with co-morbidities».
The government intends to set up public-private partnerships to help finance its immunisation programme. South Africa has had more than 1 million cases since the beginning of the pandemic and is approaching 30,000 deaths. This figure makes it the most bereaved country on the African continent.