South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine, adding that the vaccines will provide an avenue for South Africa to beat the coronavirus.
South Africa has documented the most COVID-19 infections and deaths in Africa. More than 1.4 million individuals have the virus and more than 44,000 people have died due to the virus. The country has also had to handle a more contagious virus variant called 501Y.V2 that has also been discovered in countries in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
One million doses of the AstraZeneca Vaccine was received by officials
Ramaphosa and other top officials received one million shots of the AstraZeneca Vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII) at the OR Tambo international airport.
In an address to the nation, Ramaphosa said the arrival of the vaccines will help the country remain two steps ahead of the coronavirus. It would also reduce the impact of the virus on the countries' health care system and economy.
The shots will go through a screening that will last for 10 to 14 days before inoculations will begin. The SII is scheduled to send another 500,000 doses later in January, but more will be needed to protect South Africa’s 1.25 million health workers.
South Africa plans to vaccinate 40million of its citizens this year
The country plans to reach its vaccination target of 40 million people in 2021. The 40million is an estimated two-thirds of its population.
South Africa also expects delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is administered in one dose. South African officials said the country gained access to the vaccine via bilateral negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme by the World Health Organization, and an African Union arrangement.
Ramaphosa said COVAX is estimated to release 2 million doses by March, while shots developed by Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson will be delivered in the second quarter.
The National Treasury in South Africa estimates that it could cost up to 24 billion rands ($1.6 billion) to vaccinate 40 million South Africans.