Vaccine Rollout: SA to miss its target to vaccinate 67% of population by end of 2021

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  • Government plans to vaccinate 22 million South Africans between November 2021 and February 2022.
  • Between May and October, around 13 million would receive a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • These planned targets were announced at a post-Cabinet press briefing on Thursday.

South Africa's dithering Covid-19 vaccine plan has gone further off the tracks.

Government now plans to vaccinate 22 million citizens between November 2021 and February 2022.

This is a clear admission that it will miss its previously set target to vaccinate 67% of the population by the end of the year, as promised by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.  

Phase 3 of government's vaccination plan will be implemented over three months, between November 2021 and February 2022.

It will cover the remainder of all citizens, including those who were not vaccinated in Phase 2. It is hoped at least 22 600 640 will be reached.

This is according to a statement on Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, delivered at a press briefing by acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni on Thursday.

"Cabinet remains confident of the remarkable progress being made by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) in authorising the J&J vaccine for mass vaccination. The recent approval by the SAHPRA of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine should give the country access to more lifesaving vaccines.

"Cabinet would like to reassure South Africans of the capacity of the Department of Health, in partnership with the private sector, to undertake a mass vaccine rollout when Phase 2 gets under way," Ntshavheni said.

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Ntshavheni said that, in Phase 2, workers in the mines, hospitality industry, taxi industry, retail and spaza shops, fruit and vegetable vendors and media would be targeted.

Phase 2 of the vaccination programme will be implemented over six months, from May to October, and targets 13 million vulnerable groups, essential workers, occupational health and safety workers, and those in critical sectors of economic recovery.

She said:

The vaccination sites for Phases 2 and 3 will expand to 2 085 and will also include private sector sites to improve the efficiency and speed of the vaccination rollout programme.

She also said a partnership between Biovac and the United States-based immunotherapy company, ImmunityBio, to develop South Africa’s capability to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines, would result in ImmunityBio's second-generation Covid-19 vaccine being manufactured in the country.

Ntshavheni said government was aware of the negative socio-economic impact, disruption and inconvenience caused by load shedding.

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe recently announced eight preferred bidders to provide an additional 2 000 megawatts of emergency electricity that will help support the national grid over the short term.

"The preferred bidders from the Independent Power Producer Programme are expected to source energy from solar, wind, liquefied natural gas and battery storage. The first connections to the grid are set for August 2022. The eight projects will inject R45 billion into the economy, with an average local content of 50% and create some 3 800 job opportunities during construction. A further 13 500 job opportunities will be created during the 20-year Purchase Power Agreement Term," Ntshavheni said.

She added that Cabinet remained committed to finding a sustainable and lasting solution to the funding of higher education.

She said: 

Cabinet is concerned about the growing historical student debt in the higher education system. The DHET is currently collating data on the profiles of students affected by this debt, which will form part of a planned review of the student funding policy to introduce a sustainable funding model for higher education.

"In the meantime, Cabinet encourages institutions of higher learning to engage with their student bodies to find solutions that will allow more students to register," she said.

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