South Africa has a big Covid-19 vaccine problem

Demand for Covid-19 vaccines has dropped so dramatically that the South African government is considering donating spare doses to other countries, reports the Sunday Times.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla confirmed this in a written parliamentary response to questions from an EFF member and said there were still 23 million doses of the vaccine in stock.

Around 35 million doses have been delivered since vaccination began in South Africa a year ago – and more than half of South Africa’s adult population has yet to receive a single dose of the vaccine.

“Given the continued low use of vaccination, there is a high risk that a significant number of doses will not be used before their expiry date,” Phaahla said.

For this reason, the health department is “exploring opportunities to donate surplus vaccine to other countries,” he added.

“If this is not possible, then surplus vaccines that have reached their expiry date will be discarded.”

Phaahla also confirmed that the country is currently not procuring any new vaccines due to low levels of consumption among the South African population.

Vaccine hesitancy

Covid-19 vaccine hesitancy has been a problem for the health department since vaccines first became available locally in May 2021.

In Novemberthe country had to ask Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to postpone the delivery of vaccine doses, as the country had 158 days of supply.

The health department offered R100 grocery vouchers to South Africans when they received their first dose of vaccine.

Later, the department also allowed South Africans to mix their doses of vaccines and reduced waiting intervals between vaccine doses due to the country’s excess stock.

Despite these measures, less than half of South Africa‘s adult population has received a single dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

The fifth wave is coming

The fifth wave of Covid-19 has arrived in South Africa. On Saturday, the NICD reported that testing revealed 8,524 new cases of Covid-19 at a positivity rate of 31.1%.

The health department also reported 11 deaths, including five in the past 48 hours.

This brings the official death toll from Covid-19 in South Africa to 100,516.

Read now: New Covid-19 rules to replace South Africa’s lockdown regulations

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