South Africa’s efforts to roll out the delayed COVID-19 vaccination process has reached it’s first major milestone, with over 15 000 phase one candidates – the majority of whom are health workers – receiving their vaccine in the past five days. 

The latest COVID-19 figures released by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday evening show that 15 388 people have now received the jab in South Africa, after the first batch of 80 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines landed in the country on Tuesday night from Belgium before being distributed to over 30 vaccination sites across the country.

Vaccine rollout progressing ‘successfully’  

Mkhize said in a statement on Sunday that The Sisonke Early Access Programme that was launched on the 17 February has so far been progressing steadily and he is hopeful that the vaccine rollout will continue to stem the spread of the pandemic in South Africa.

“By the end of Saturday 21 February, more than 10 000 healthcare workers have already been successfully vaccinated.  The J&J vaccine, used in the Sisonke programme, provides 57% protection against moderate-severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease and 100% protection against death, based on evidence from the clinical trials that included South African participants,” he said.

“Following productive discussions with stakeholders from the private sector, the National Department of Health and the Sisonke Programme have allocated one third of all vaccine doses available for private healthcare workers. This means that one third of the first 80 000 vaccines will be allocated to the private sector over the next 14 days.

He said that all health care workers – irrespective of where they work – need to be vaccinated. “This is critical and is aligned with the national prioritisation framework for Phase 1 of the national vaccine roll out programme,” said Mkhize.

Latest Coronavirus figures

In addition to the latest vaccination figures, Mkhize announced the latest COVID-19 case and death figures on Monday 22 February 2021, saying that across the country, cases have increased by 1 429 in the last 24-hours, meaning that the total number of infections that have been accumulatively reported since March 2020 has risen to 503 796. 

Sadly, over the last 24-hours alone, a further 139 people have died from COVID-19, meaning that a total of 14 053 people have succumbed to the virus since the first death in March 2020. 

He also reported that there have been a total of 1 412 015 recoveries, leaving SA’s recovery rate at 93.8%, with a cumulative total of 8 892 515 tests having been conducted since the process began. 

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Presh JM Reporter

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