Be ready for your turn, Makhura tells Gauteng residents

Be ready for your turn, Makhura tells Gauteng residents

Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, says Gauteng residents should be ready for their turn as the province intends to rollout massive vaccination.

He made the remark while delivering his State of the Province Address on Tuesday.

“We intend to vaccinate 67% (10.4 million people) of Gauteng’s population. We call on the people of our province to get ready to vaccinate in large numbers. Vaccines save lives. As more vaccine doses arrive, we will vaccinate 215 101 healthcare workers in Phase I of the Vaccine Rollout Plan of our province.

This will be followed 7 372 924 vaccinations in Phase II focusing on essential workers and vulnerable sections of the population such as the elderly and people with co-morbidities. We will conclude with Phase III of the vaccination programmed which will focus on 2 789 427 vaccinations for the rest of the population over 18 years. More than 150 vaccination sites have been identified at primary healthcare centres and vaccinators have been trained across the province,” he explained.

The province started its vaccination programme last week, targeting healthcare workers.

Gauteng has received 16 800 doses for the vaccination of healthcare workers over the next two weeks. The Steve Biko Academic Hospital received 5 720 doses, while Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital received 11 080 doses.

To date, 5 214 healthcare workers in Gauteng have been vaccinated. “We must make it clear that coronavirus is still around and the third wave is a real possibility as we approach winter.  However, we must also say that without equivocation that vaccines constitute the decisive weapon against pandemics. The vaccination plan has to be rolled out urgently and massively to save lives and enabled the economy to recover fully,” adds Makhura.

He has warned against complacency, saying that even though the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has begun, the possibility of a third wave cannot be ruled out.

Makhura adds that the province has expanded the capacity of its public healthcare system, with 4 265 new functional beds and 4 992 posts created and filled between April 2020 and January 2021.

He says another 1 425 beds are in the final stages of being made functional and operational with additional staffing from the start of the new financial year.

“This is a significant long-term investment that will outlive the COVID-19 pandemic. What is important is to improve patient care, clinical outcomes, meet the ideal clinic standards and prepare the health care system for the NHI,” he adds.

Outlining the province’s four priorities, he said winning the battle against the virus and reigniting the economy top the list.

“Firstly, winning the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and building resilient institutional and societal capacity to deal effectively with any future pandemics and disasters in the Gauteng City Region.

Secondly, ( it is) re-igniting the Gauteng economy to take a lead in South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan as well as Africa’s industrialisation agenda. Thirdly, recalibrating social policy to improve educational and health outcomes, fight crime and protect the most vulnerable sections of the population against urban poverty and hunger,” says Makhura.

SACP Free State calls for universal access to COVID-19 vaccine

SACP Free State calls for universal access to COVID-19 vaccine

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in the Free State is calling for intensified response against COVID-19 and universal access to vaccine.

SACP Free State Provincial Secretary, Bheke Stofile, says the BRICS bloc of nations, which constitute over 40% of the global population, should have coordinated research, resources and efforts in the development of a universally accessible vaccine, informed by the need to “put people before profits”.

He believes that such efforts would have tamed, what he says, is the current capitalist driven commodification of the production and distribution of vaccines, informed by a profit motive rather than protection of life.

Stofile says the SACP Free State is, nonetheless, supportive of the need for universal and equitable roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination.

The party has on the other hand raised concern at the surge of COVID-19 cases in the Free State.

More than 70 000 people in the province have been infected by the virus and at least 2 473 others have died.

“Many people have recovered from the virus, but, sadly, many people also perished. The resultant disruption consequent of these COVID-19 cases on families, their livelihood and the economy are dire. Society cannot act as though it is business as usual.”

The party is urging locals to “take responsibility and follow the COVID-19 preventative measures and recommended hygiene protocols.”

These include the wearing of a mask, physical distancing and regular handwashing. – Report by Puisano News

Wits-tested Oxford vaccine best suited for developing countries: Nzimande

Wits-tested Oxford vaccine best suited for developing countries: Nzimande

Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, says the Wits-tested Oxford vaccine has been taunted as the most suitable for developing countries.

Nzimande made these utterances during a media briefing on the state of readiness for the 2021 academic year at the country’s institutions of higher education on Monday.

Trials on the vaccine began in June with volunteers enrolled at five sites in Hillbrow, Soweto and Pretoria, in Gauteng, as well as two in the Western Cape.

The Wits Executive Director of the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit, Professor Shabir Madhi, led the trials. 

The ChAdOx1-Cov19 vaccine is one of only five vaccines approved globally.

In December, its phase 3 human trial results were peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal.

Nzimande says while it is not as effective as the Pfizer vaccine, it is cost effective and comparatively easy to transport, store and distribute.

“This vaccine is currently being considered for approval by the European Medicines Agency. Approval has been granted by the regulatory authorities in the UK, India, Mexico, Bangladesh and Argentina,” the Minister says.

His remarks come as the country gears up to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccine doses from India amid a fierce battle to slow the spread of the pandemic.

More than 1.2 million South Africans have contracted the virus and 37 449 others have succumbed to it. – Report by Voice of Wits reporter and newsreader, Yonaka Theledi.