JOHANNESBURG – South Africa to donate just over 2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine to other African countries to boost continent’s COVID-19 vaccine campaign, government says announced Friday.
The doses, worth around $ 18 million, will be produced at Aspen Pharmacare’s manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, and will be distributed to various African countries over the next year, according to a communicated.
“This donation embodies South Africa’s solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the continent with whom we stand united to fight an unprecedented threat to public health and economic prosperity,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in the statement. .
“The only way to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 and protect the economies and societies on our continent is to successfully immunize a critical mass of the African population with safe and effective vaccines,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa is ” well advanced in his convalescence of COVID-19 while continuing treatment for mild symptoms, ”his office said in a separate statement Friday. Ramaphosa, 69, tested positive for COVID-19 on December 12 and has been in isolation at the Cape Town official residence since then, with treatment by the South African Military Health Service.
Ramaphosa is “in a good mood and at ease in his recovery,” the statement said.
South Africa‘s donation will be in addition to the more than 100 million doses of vaccine that have been donated to the African Vaccination Acquisition Trust of the African Union. The African vaccination group has also purchased 500 million doses to distribute to countries on the continent.
Africa remains the least vaccinated continent in the world. The World Health Organization has said Africa may miss the goal of vaccinating 70% of its 1.3 billion people before the second half of 2024.
Only 20 of Africa’s 54 countries have fully immunized at least 10% of their population against COVID-19. Ten African countries have less than 2% of their population fully immunized, according to the WHO.
South Africa is currently battling the resurgence of the coronavirus fueled by the omicron variant. South Africa recorded 24,785 new infections and 36 deaths in the last 24-hour reporting cycle. The seven-day moving average of the country’s daily new cases has risen sharply over the past two weeks, from 8.59 new cases per 100,000 people on December 2 to 39.11 new cases per 100,000 people on December 16.
More than 78% of new cases are from the omicron variant, Health Minister Joe Phaahla said at a briefing on Friday.
Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have increased somewhat, but not at rates comparable to the steep upward trend in new cases, health experts have said. In South Africa, omicron has so far resulted in more mild cases than the previous wave, driven by the delta variant, according to health experts. Exposure of the population to the coronavirus, as 72% blood tests show, could contribute to less severe symptoms of omicron, experts said on Friday.
South African scientists say their analysis of the data suggests that the Pfizer vaccine offers less defense against omicron infection and reduced, but still good, protection against hospitalization.
Despite the increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the government has not announced an increase in restrictions.
Unlike many other African countries, South Africa now has sufficient supplies of vaccine doses estimated at 19 million, but the number of people vaccinated has slowed significantly. According to official figures, only 12,500 shots were administered on Thursday, compared to an average of around 120,000 per day in November.
Over 15 million South Africans are fully immunized, representing 38% of the adult population, according to official statistics.
“We are very concerned about the drastic drop in vaccination, especially over the past seven to ten days,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla said at a press conference on Friday.
He urged South Africans to get vaccinated before the holidays. “Jab before jive!” Phaahla said.
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