A substantial proportion of people may refuse or delay taking a COVID-19 vaccine. Shutterstock
A substantial proportion of people may refuse or delay taking a COVID-19 vaccine. Shutterstock

South Africa is set to receive initial vaccines from the COVAX facility to cover 10% of its population in the early part of 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced to the nation on Monday evening.

The President said SA concluded all the necessary processes to ensure its participation in the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility.

“This facility – known as COVAX – pools resources and shares vaccine development risk to ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available.

“As part of this facility, it is expected that South Africa will receive initial vaccines to cover 10% of our population in the early part of next year,” he said.

In addition to the COVAX vaccine, South Africa is also part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team that is looking at alternative financing mechanisms to secure additional vaccines for African countries beyond COVAX.

Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is part of this Task Team and is also looking at innovative partnerships with the private sector to ensure that South Africans have access to an effective vaccine that is suitable to local conditions.

South Africa, like many parts of the world, is currently battling a second wave of infections as it enters the festive season.

To date, over 38,000 health workers in the public sector have tested positive for the virus. Of these, nearly 5,000 were admitted to hospital. Sadly, 391 health workers in the public sector have passed away.

Celebrating the festive season responsibly

With the daily average of new cases nationally over the last seven days 74% higher than the previous seven days, the President made an impassioned plea to South Africans to celebrate the festive season in a different way.

“This period will require each of us to do things differently to previous years because this year is unlike any other we have lived through before.

“It will require us to give up some short-lived pleasures to protect ourselves and others, and to ensure that we can enjoy such times together in future years,” said the President.

Having implemented a curfew, limited alcohol sales and prohibited festivals as beaches, in a bid to contain the spread of infections, the President urged South Africans to adhere to the health regulations during this period.

“This festive season, I am asking you to keep your celebrations small and to avoid crowds. I am asking you to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth whenever in public, or in the company of people you don’t live with,” he urged.

“I wish you all a blessed festive season, that you may remain safe and in good health, and that we may welcome in the new year as one united and resolute nation,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za