Zweli Mkhize has vowed to procure the COVID-19 vaccine ‘as early as possible’, after he briefed the nation about the government’s immunization strategy on Thursday. The health minister was in a bullish mood, suggesting that the life-saving jabs could arrive on South African shores ‘by February’.
ZWELI MKHIZE SUGGESTS VACCINE DELIVERY ‘NEXT MONTH’
There had been some doubts about the government’s ability to ensure that the vaccine would arrive promptly in Mzansi. Several delayed payments to the COVAX scheme had raised some red flags, but according to the health minister, it’s now a case of ‘full steam ahead’ for SA’s vaccination program – which promises to be a real… shot in the arm.
“The department has approached a number of vaccine manufacturers and discussions are at a sensitive stage, but they will be concluded soon. We are pushing to get vaccines as early as February. Government is on track. The matter of availability of vaccines is being handled, and vaccines will be distributed in stages.”
“It has been agreed that the focus will carry the major burden of procuring the vaccine. The government will also approach medical schemes to raise additional funds, and we will ask them to contribute [via the Solidarity Fund]. At the end of the day, SA is focused on the best way to deal with the situation.”
LATEST NUMBER OF COVID-19 CASES FOR SOUTH AFRICA ON THURSDAY 7 JANUARY
South Africa has logged over 800 daily Coronavirus deaths for the first time since the outbreak, while new cases also hit a record high last night. A total of 844 people lost their lives to COVID-19, pushing the death toll 31 368. Just under 22 000 cases were identified since the last reporting cycle, bringing the total cumulative COVID-19 cases to 1 149 591.
According to Mkhize, the Eastern Cape reported 452 deaths – more than half of the national total – due to respiratory disease. However, the minister has since clarified that the staggering number of deaths in the province was due to ‘data reconciliation’, spanning between May and November 2020.