South Africa opens Covid-19 vaccinations to everyone 18 and older

SOUTH AFRICA – President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet has announced Covid-19 vaccinations will be open to all adults as from Friday in efforts to push the country towards achieving herd immunity.

As part of increasing the vaccination roll-out programme, cabinet approved the vaccination of persons aged between 18 years and 35 years from 20 August 2021,” the cabinet has said in a statement.

To date, over nine million vaccines have been administered in South Africa, with over seven million people partially vaccinated and over four million fully vaccinated.

Yesterday, the country reported 14,728 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,638,981. The ministry also reported 384 deaths, taking the total number of virus-related fatalities to 78,377.

The country is the hardest-hit by the pandemic in Africa, accounting for 35.88 per cent of the continent’s caseload and 42.20 per cent of its fatalities.

Gauteng province has registered the highest number of cases and deaths, with 892,734 infections and 18,269 fatalities. The Western Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal provinces are also hard hit, each having reported more than 400,000 COVID-19 cases.

The Western Cape Province has recorded 17,091 deaths while Kwa Zulu Natal has 12,768. South Africa however boasts of a 91 percent recovery rate, as 2,402,020 patients successfully recovered from the disease. Active cases stood at 158,584.

The government is undertaking a nationwide vaccination campaign in efforts to contain further spread of the virus. So far, well over 9,962,111 vaccines have been administered.

South Africa’s move to allow every adult get vaccinated comes at a time when WHO has strongly critiqued the move by some Western countries to roll out booster shots, citing it as a “mockery of vaccine equity.”

Equally, WHO head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed concern over shipment of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine doses manufactured at South Africa based Aspen Pharmacare being exported to western countries, as most of Africa remains unvaccinated with limited supplies.

In terms of containment measures, the cabinet has said it will keep the country at an adjusted level 3 lockdown based on advice received from the Ministerial Advisory Committee.

While health experts and government officials said that South Africa has passed the peak of its third wave of Covid-19 infections, a spike in cases has caused alarm.

Speaking this week, newly-appointed health minister Dr Joe Phaahla Phaahla said that as the third wave is still ongoing, South Africans should not expect a relaxation in restrictions.

“We are still far from where we can say the third wave is out. As the department, we will be in no way recommend a relaxation of the restriction at this stage,” he said.

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