South Africa will make its first applications for the coronavirus vaccinations within a week or two. There are concerns that most South Africans have misconceptions about coronavirus vaccines and will therefore avoid being vaccinated when the country acquires them.
A recent survey conducted by IPSOS found that less than 64% of South Africans would accept the vaccines. Out of that number, only 29% strongly agreed that vaccines were necessary.
Scientific advisor at the South African Vaccination and Immunisation Centre, Professor Hannelie Meyer says, “There still needs to be a lot of debate before the rollout of the vaccine, because it can actually back-fire. People can feel that they don’t have the freedom of choice anymore. There’s a ministerial committee appointed by the government to advise.”
SA COVID-19 cases reach over 852 000
South Africa in the latest 24-hour cycle, reported 7 889 confirmed cases of coronavirus, taking the total since the start of the pandemic to over 852 000. The number of COVID-19 related fatalities has risen by 154, taking the death toll to over 23 000.
According to the Department of Health, Active cases have risen to almost 70 000 and recoveries stand at over 760 000.
SA could take delivery of its first batch of vaccines by mid-2021: Barry Schoub
Safety a major consideration in choosing vaccine
Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID vaccines, Professor Barry Schoub says safety should be a major consideration in choosing a vaccine.
“There are many factors that we need to take into consideration. Efficiency is a major one. Safety is also non-negotiable. So safety and efficacy are really the major ones that we look at. Then we can have adjustable things like storage. If a vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees, which the Pfizer vaccine requires, then it’s not going to be applicable to South Africa.”
Schoub says the country has to juggle between cost and efficacy. “In other words, if something is very much cheaper but has a slightly less efficacy; it might be cost-effective to go for that vaccine because you are going to get a bigger coverage. And then there are other factors like two doses for example and how it will behave in our population. We are a population that might be more immuno-suppressed with HIV for example.”
He says the first round of vaccines could be available only for priority groups.
“I think what’s going to happen is that the first round of vaccine is probably going to be available for selected priority groups like frontline healthcare workers, elderly people staying in nursing homes. So roughly so about 10% of the population.”
WHO responds to the current debate on vaccines in South Africa
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