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Gov’t Aims To Provide COVID-19 Vaccine For Two-Thirds Of SA

The SA government plans to provide the COVID-19 vaccine to just 67% of the country’s population in its attempts to reach heard immunity, Minister of Health, Zweli Mhkize said on Sunday.

In a public briefing conducted online, Mkhize outlined the COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan for SA.

“We knew early on that the only way to fight Covid-19 would be to achieve herd immunity through vaccination,” he said, as reported by IOL.

Ministerial Advisory committee member Barry Schoub went on to explain that herd immunity would be the best way to contain the transmission of the virus, with infections rising in record numbers. Following this, Mkhize went on to explain how the COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed in SA.

“Herd immunity is basically the threshold of the amount of people needed in a population to achieve immunity toward the virus. We have calculated the 67% based on the reproductive rate of the virus” Schoub said.

“First in the queue would be frontline health workers as they were the most important sector in the fight against COVID-19,” Mkhize said, before outlining the rollout plan for the vaccine. Essential workers and people living with co-morbidities will be next in line, joined by people living in crowded facilities such as care homes and (controversially) prisons. The three-phased plan will be rolled out as follows:

Phase One:

* Healthcare workers: Health professionals, nurses, general health workers, care home workers, selected laboratory workers, and traditional healers. Target population: 1,250,000

Phase Two:

* Essential workers: This group includes police officers, miners, and workers in the security, retail food, funeral, travel, banking, and essential municipal and home affairs services. Target population: 2,500,000

* Persons with co-morbidities and at risk for morbidity and mortality: These include persons 60 years and older, persons living with HIV, tuberculosis, diabetics, chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, obesity, etc. Target population: 13,000,000

* Persons in congregate or overcrowded settings: This group includes persons in prison, detention centres, shelters, and care homes. In addition people working in the hospitality and tourism industry, and educational institutions are also at risk. Target population: 1,100,000

Phase Three:

• Other persons younger than 18 years. Target population: 22,500,000

“This means that by the end of phase 3, 40 350 000 citizens will have been immunised which is equivalent to approximately 67,25% of the population,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize added that the plan is to start distributing the vaccine by the second quarter of 2021, but has said the government is hopeful that they might be receiving the vaccine a little earlier.

“We are very mindful of the urgency. We all have a personal anxiety. We want to know at which point can we say we are safe from this pandemic. We are in bilateral talks to see how we can get the vaccine here faster, perhaps by February,” Mkhize concluded.

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