The South African government announced Friday that it will donate slightly more than 2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to other African countries in order to boost the continent’s COVID-19 vaccine drive.
According to a statement, the doses, worth approximately $18 million, will be manufactured at the Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha, formerly Port Elizabeth, and distributed to various African countries over the next year.
“This donation embodies South Africa’s solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the continent, with whom we are united in combating an unprecedented threat to public health and economic prosperity,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a statement.
“The only way we can prevent COVID-19 transmission and protect our continent’s economies and societies is to successfully immunize a critical mass of the African population with safe and effective vaccines,” Ramaphosa said. Ramaphosa’s office said in a separate statement Friday that he is “making good progress in his recovery from COVID-19 while continuing treatment for mild symptoms.” Ramaphosa, 69, was diagnosed with COVID-19 on December 12 and has been isolated at the official residence in Cape Town since then, receiving treatment from the South African military health service.
According to the statement, Ramaphosa is “in good spirits and comfortable with his recovery.”
South Africa’s donation will be added to the African Union’s African Vaccination Acquisition Trust’s collection of more than 100 million vaccine doses. The African vaccination group has also purchased 500 million doses, which will be distributed across the continent.
Africa is still the least vaccinated continent on the planet. According to the World Health Organization, Africa may not reach the target of vaccinating 70% of its 1.3 billion people until the second half of 2024. Only 20 of Africa’s 54 countries have completely immunized at least 10% of their populations against COVID-19. According to WHO, ten African countries have less than 2% of their populations fully vaccinated.
South Africa is currently dealing with the resurgence of the coronavirus, which is being fueled by the omicron variant. In the most recent 24-hour reporting cycle, South Africa recorded 24,785 new infections and 36 deaths. The country’s seven-day rolling average of daily new cases has risen dramatically in the last two weeks, rising from 8.59 new cases per 100,000 people on December 2 to 39.11 new cases per 100,000 people on December 16.
According to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, more than 78 percent of the new cases are from the omicron variant.
Hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 have increased slightly, but not at rates comparable to the sharp upward trend in new cases, according to health experts. According to health experts, omicron has resulted in more mild cases in South Africa than the previous wave, which was driven by the delta variant. According to experts, the population’s exposure to the coronavirus, which has been shown by blood tests to be at 72 percent, could be contributing to the less severe symptoms of omicron.
According to South African scientists, their data analysis indicates that the Pfizer vaccine provides less defense against omicron infection and less, but still adequate, protection against hospitalization.
Despite an increase in COVID-19 cases, the government has not announced an increase in restrictions.
In contrast to many other African countries, South Africa now has adequate vaccine dose supplies, estimated at 19 million, but the number of people vaccinated has slowed dramatically. According to official figures, only 12,500 shots were administered on Thursday, down from an average of around 120,000 per day in November. According to official statistics, more than 15 million South Africans are fully vaccinated, accounting for 38% of the adult population.
“We are very concerned about the drastic decline in vaccination uptake, particularly in the last seven to ten days,” Health Minister Joe Phaahla said at a press conference on Friday.
He urged South Africans to get their immunizations before the holidays. “Jab before jive!” exclaimed Phaahla.