South Africans are likely to get a Covid 19 vaccine in the second quarter of next year, and not everyone will be on the initial list.
The first in line are likely to be health care professionals, followed by the elderly as the country undertakes a national roll out, that is likely to encounter some logistical obstacles.
There has been good news of late with three pharmaceutical giants revealing that their vaccine trials are showing promising results.
The coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer has proven to be 95% effective, while the Moderna vaccine reduced the risk of catching the virus by 94.5%. This week it was announced that the Oxford vaccine showed a strong immune response in the elderly. The news comes as most of Europe is experiencing a second wave of the virus and infection rates are beginning to rise again in South Africa.
But as these vaccines become available, Rajesh Narwal, a health systems adviser at the World Health Organisation (WHO), believes there will be a rush by nations to secure stock.
“The point is that already a lot of these vaccines have already been pre procured by wealthier nations,” said Narwal, who yesterday was speaking at a webinar that discussed the implications of an international Covid 19 vaccine policy.
But the WHO is ensuring that other nations will have access to vaccines, even though this will mean producing two billion units by the end of 2021.
This will be through the COVAX programme which was launched in April by the WHO, the European Commission and France. COVAX in part aims to ensure universal access to any Covid-19 vaccine.
Narwal expects South Africa to see the arrival of a vaccine either in the first quarter of next year but more likely in the second quarter.
Like other countries, South Africa is set to adopt a phased approach. Stage one would see health workers prioritised and immunised, they would be followed by the elderly. Stage two will see 11% to 20% of the population vaccinated where people with comorbidities and high priority teachers will get the shot. In stage three up to 50% of the population will be immunised, including other essential workers.
“This access needs to be done in such a way that it does not put strain on economies and the people,” he added. It is likely that the vaccine will be a double dose combination.
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