This week, South Africa marked a full year of living under the dense cloud of Covid-19.
And as we continue to observe a decline in cases after second wave, the threat of this vicious virus rearing its ugly head in another rampant and deadly surge is ever-present.
But it isn’t all doom and gloom – the country is also close to reaching a milestone of vaccinating 100 000 healthcare workers.
However, there remains the ghost of a vaccination strategy past, whose future is still contentious.
On February 1, a consignment of 1 million Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine doses landed on our shores, destined to be the first vaccines rolled out among health workers as part of the phase 1 inoculation plan.
Another 500 000 would soon follow, as the full order was 1.5 million doses.
However, no sooner had the doses arrived than results from clinical studies revealed that the vaccine had no significant efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant of the virus, which had been dominant in the country since December.
The jury was out on what the vaccine’s effect would be on severe illness, with some expert advisers arguing that it could still be used in high-risk individuals.
So what to do with vaccines lying in cold storage a month after they arrived, bought at a hefty cost of R75 million?
When asked this week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said 1 million doses would be going to the African Union to be distributed to countries that had expressed an interest in buying them “at the same cost we bought” them for.
However, legal teams are yet to finalise the transfer agreements.
The rest of the doses? Well, that’s not too clear either. Mkhize said government was awaiting “clear guidance on how to use them from our scientists”.
The vaccines come with an April 30 expiry date, so time is certainly of the essence.