We know by now that COVID-19 is a resilient virus that can’t be effectively stopped through the natural development of herd immunity.
Our only real hope of eradicating it completely is a viable vaccine.
There are a few vaccines in the works, but whether or not South Africans will be able to access them depends on a number of factors.
Earlier today, Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, via The Citizen, said that South Africa will receive its first COVID-19 vaccines in the second quarter of 2021.
The Department of Health’s Dr Anban Pillay also weighed in:
“A dossier will be ready early January; we can then expect rollout thereafter. They have advised us to plan for a rollout early in the second quarter.”
“The Covid vaccines are currently in a regulatory assessment phase across the world. We have participated in the Covax agreement so we will hear from Covax which vaccine has been allocated to SA,” said Pillay.
A number of vaccines are being rolled out globally. The specific one coming our way wasn’t named.
As previously announced, there were four candidate vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine seems unlikely because it has to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, something which we don’t have the infrastructure to do.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) Covax programme is designed to ensure equitable access to vaccines for all developing countries.
However, as reported by News24, South Africa has officially missed the December 15 deadline to make a deposit to secure vaccines.
Tandi Nzimande, the chief executive officer of the Solidarity Fund, says that the payment will be made in the coming days. The fund took it upon itself to make the R327 million deposit (15% of the R2,2 billion that will ultimately need to be paid) after the government failed to do so.
This is in keeping with a warning from some of South Africa’s top scientists who have put together a plan for the rollout.
Writing in the SA Medical Journal, the scientists say: “We cannot only rely on the national department of health and the public sector. We need the private sector, labour, and entities such as Médecins Sans Frontières, the Red Cross and Gift of the Givers to support the national rollout of vaccines.
Head on over to TimesLIVE to read about the full plan of action.
The money paid by the Solidarity Fund will secure immunisation for 10% of the population, provided the rest will be paid at a later date.
The Department of Health confirmed on December 4 that everything was on track to make the payment (it clearly wasn’t), and when asked about the missed deadline, the Treasury said: “This is a work in progress”.
Finally, from a global perspective, the capitalist machine is in full swing, with third world countries coming in at the back end of vaccine distribution.
Back in October, India and South Africa asked the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to allow all countries to choose to neither grant nor enforce patents and other intellectual property (IP) related to COVID-19 drugs, vaccines, diagnostics, and other technologies for the duration of the pandemic until global herd immunity is achieved.
This would allow countries, like South Africa, to develop generic versions of existing vaccines locally, making them easier and cheaper to access, and access on a larger scale.
— Gram Vaani (@GramVaani) December 8, 2020
As of 1PM, December 17, this what it looks like:
You can check out the full list of waiver supporters and opponents here, but a few of the standout opponents include the US, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, and Canada.
The waiving of patents seems like the most effective way to ensure mass distribution, through local production.
Unfortunately, there’s money to be made, and that tends to get in the way of things.
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