Efforts to ensure access to COVID-19 vaccine on track

Thursday, December 3, 2020

With many initiatives around the world to speed up the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that government is working with its partners to ensure all countries have access to the vaccine.

“We continue to collaborate with our partners in the international community to ensure that all countries have access to an effective and affordable vaccine,” the President said.

He was addressing the nation on Thursday on the country’s risk-adjusted response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The address followed a special sitting of Cabinet, which considered recommendations of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) meeting.

“We are participating in the World Health Organisation’s COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility – known as the COVAX Facility – which aims to pool resources and share vaccine development risk, and thus ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available,” President Ramaphosa said.

The Solidarity Fund will be making the initial contribution of R327 million towards the vaccine procurement on behalf of the country.

“We are also encouraged by the promising results from three trials of candidate vaccines, which have shown efficacy levels of between 70% and 95%.

“We await confirmation from medicine regulators that these vaccines are safe, effective and suitable for our needs,” President Ramaphosa said.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will review the approval applications when received from the developers and authorise their use.

The President warned that until a vaccine is developed and distributed, “we remain our own best protection against COVID-19.”

Festive season 

As the festive season is approaching, the President reminded South Africans to be cautious and continue to regularly wash or sanitise their hands, observe social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings and indoor spaces where ventilation is poor.

“Travel carries great risks, which we can be reduced by avoiding unnecessary travel. We can also reduce infection risk by wearing a mask in public transport, keeping the vehicle windows open and maintaining prevention measures on arrival.

“The summer season is traditionally a time for social gatherings, attending festivals and events, and socialising at weddings, religious gatherings and in both public and private spaces,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said social gatherings can be ‘super-spreader’ events that carry a huge risk of transmission of the virus.

“Each of us needs to ensure we take precautions to avoid spreading the virus to our families, especially our elders. We should keep gatherings small, have them outside or in well ventilated venues, ensure social distancing and wear masks as much as possible,” President Ramaphosa said.

He reminded every resident in the country to take the appropriate steps to prevent the virus from spreading any further.

“Just as we did in the early days of the pandemic, let us stand together and let us work together. Just as we know that a second wave is possible, we know too that it is not inevitable.

“So tonight, I am asking you to recommit yourself to this fight. We will get through this period of difficulty, as we did the ones before.” – SAnews.gov.za

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