South Africa is speeding up the vaccination campaign and receiving more doses from the US

The mass vaccination campaign in South Africa, which got going after a sluggish start, vaccinated 220,000 people a day last week and is accelerating towards the target of 300,000 a day

August 4, 2021, 7:13 a.m.

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JOHANNESBURG – The cars stood in a row in front of the strikingly modern mosque and were led to parking lots, where the drivers soon got a push.

The brisk pace at the Houghton Mosque’s COVID-19 vaccination center sees 700 people a day being injected and is expected to hit 1,000 a day soon.

“This is exciting! We are vaccinating more people than we expected,” said Yaseen Theba, chairwoman of the Muslim Association of South Africa, the day after the vaccination center opened last week. “We created this drive-thru site to accommodate so many people to make the situation as comfortable as possible. And it works! We’ll keep going until people need to be vaccinated. “

More than 7.7 million South Africans have received at least one dose, of which more than 100,000 are fully vaccinated, which is 1.6% of the population according to official figures. Across Africa, less than 1.5% of the continent’s 1.3 billion people are fully vaccinated, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After starting out with just a dozen vaccination sites, South Africa now has more than 3,000, including government and private hospitals, pharmacies, mines, factories, churches and mosques.

South Africa now appears to have an adequate supply of cans. More than 5.7 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine arrived from the United States this week, part of President Joe Biden’s distribution of more than 110 million surplus doses to more than 60 countries. South Africa has also purchased more than 40 million Pfizer / BioNTech cans in regular shipments and 30 million Johnson & Johnson cans.

Another encouraging factor is the enthusiasm for the vaccines. According to surveys, more than 70% of South Africans say they are interested in vaccines, while only 10% are against it.

South Africa has by far carried the greatest burden of COVID-19 in Africa, with more than 35% of cases reported by all 54 countries on the continent, despite its population accounting for only 4.6% of the continent’s total population. More than 72,000 South Africans have died from COVID-19, according to official records, but statistics show that nearly three times as many have likely died.

South Africa is currently the only country in Africa that can manufacture COVID-19 vaccines. The dependence on imported vaccines will decrease.

A local company, Aspen Pharmacare, assembles the J&J vaccines from large batches of the ingredients and fills them into vials in a process called fill and finish. The factory in Gqeberha can produce more than 200 million J&J cans, which are distributed across the continent.

Pfizer has announced that the Biovac Institute in Cape Town will use the same fill-and-finish process to assemble its COVID-19 vaccines. Both Pfizer and J&J have agreed that at some point the South African manufacturing facilities will be able to manufacture the vaccines from scratch.

The recent wave of infections, fueled by the Delta variant, prompted President Cyril Ramaphosa to tighten restrictions, including restricting liquor sales Monday through Thursday to reduce the number of people entering hospital emergency rooms after alcohol-related incidents going to reduce. Ramaphosa recently visited vaccination sites in the capital, Pretoria, to encourage people to get a sting.

“South Africa is slowly but surely emerging from the third wave with a curve that is on a downward path. The third wave peak was higher than the previous two peaks and a slightly more severe situation in terms of case numbers, ”said Mosa Moshabela, professor of public health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Our vaccination campaign is a source of pride in the current climate. A dynamic is developing, “said Moshabela.” We are seeing a lot of creative approaches to reaching more people with workplace approaches and trying to get people into hard-to-reach areas.

At the Johannesburg Mosque’s drive-through vaccine center, Tumi Sedumedi drove to the waiting area after getting her J&J vaccination and bowed her head for a quiet moment of prayer.

“I wanted to say thank you for getting the vaccination,” said Sedumedi. “I’m so relieved that I got it, so I wanted to pray about it and just be thankful. To pray for these people who are offering the ministry. And to hope that everyone can be vaccinated and that we can get this pandemic under control. “

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