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First COVID-19 vaccine consignment arrives in South Africa

South Africa’s first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines has officially landed at OR Tambo International Airport on Monday [Feburary 1] at 3pm, marking the start of the vaccine rollout which President Ramaphosa describes as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in the country’s history.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, are on hand to receive South Africa’s first consignment of COVID-19 vaccine.

They are joined by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, High Commissioner of the Republic of India His Excellency Jaideep Sarkar and Dr Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer of Biovac.

High Commissioner Sarkar represents India as the country of origin of the first vaccine to be rolled out in South Africa. The Serum Institute of India has been licensed to produce a vaccine that has been developed by the multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford.

South Africa will receive 1-million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and 500 000 doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) in February.

Government has also reached an agreement with the COVAX Facility to secure vaccines to immunise 10% of the population, and these vaccines are expected at the beginning of the second quarter of the year.

The rollout of the vaccine will take a three-phase approach that begins with the most vulnerable in our population.

– Phase 1 will focus on frontline healthcare workers.

– Phase 2 will see us vaccinate essential workers, persons in congregate settings, persons over 60 years, and persons over 18 years with co-morbidities.

– Phase 3 will focus on persons older than 18 years, targeting 22 500 000 of the population.

The target is to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of 2021, which will allow us to achieve herd immunity.

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