South African President Kicks off C0VID-19 Vaccinations


This week, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa became the sixth person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Five other healthcare workers had already received the COVID-19 shots before the President at the Khayelitsha hospital. A nurse was the first person in South Africa to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The South African government distributed the COVID-19 shots all over the country`s nine provinces to treat patients. The President and health minister Zweli Mkhize got their jabs publicly to demonstrate their confidence in the vaccine and help stop any doubts people might have about the vaccine.

South African President urges Citizens to have Confidence in the Vaccine.

South Africa has had the highest confirmed virus caseload in the African continent. Due to this, the nation prioritized acquiring vaccine shots as soon as possible this year before the situation worsened. When the government announced that it had secured some AstraZeneca vaccines, numerous people expressed their joy due to the news. But things soon change drastically as soon after the doses arrived in South Africa, the health minister announced that the country would not roll out the vaccine. The minister said the decision was made because a small study showed the vaccines were not effective against the variant dominant in South Africa.

A day after this decision, the health minister announced that the country would instead use the J&J vaccines. He further stated the government had already received 80,000 doses of the vaccine flown in from Belgium. When the vaccines arrived, some health officials took them to a secure facility. Later on, they shipped them off to vaccination centers across South Africa overnight. The President said he was relieved when the health minister texted him and sent him photos of the arrival of the J&J vaccines.

Numerous South Africans applauded the government for acquiring new vaccines so soon. President Ramaphosa urged South Africa`s 60 million citizens to have confidence in the new vaccine. The President encouraged people to turn up and receive the vaccine despite a bumpy start. At the beginning of the campaign, the government made a last-minute change of vaccines. In South Africa`s first phase of vaccinations, health workers would firstly receive the vaccines as an observational study. This would be necessary as the J&J vaccine is still not yet authorized for general use anywhere in the world.

Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Despite the lack of authorization, the South African government has chosen to place its hopes on the J&J vaccine. After a large international clinical trial, South Africa discovered the vaccine could offer protection against the variant first identified in the country in December. Trial results from that study also revealed that the vaccine had 57% efficacy against moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 caused by the variant. Moreover, the results indicated that the vaccine had higher effectiveness against severe illness and hospitalization.

So far, at least 380,000 health workers have registered online to receive the first shots of the J&J vaccine. The health care workers will be part of the first phase of South Africa`s drive to vaccinate 1.25 million health care workers. The South African government has secured an additional 500,000 doses of the J&J vaccine. The country expects to receive the doses within the next four weeks. Additionally, the nation has secured 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and plans to get China`s Sinopharm and Russia`s Sputnik V vaccines. South Africa`s health minister announced that South Africa had so far secured enough vaccines to vaccinate 67% of the population to achieve herd immunity.



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