South Africa strives to increase the use of Covid vaccine

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South African street vendor Palesa Sekwere, who was initially worried about the side effects, slowly accepted the idea of ​​getting a coronavirus vaccine.

“I was convinced… it’s time to tell myself that I deserve this,” said the 32-year-old Soweto, the largest town in Johannesburg.

But the bigger problem for Sekwere is that she had to leave the food stall selling one rand snacks, such as healthy, A kind of doughnut.So even though her booth is across from the clinic, there are dozens of people sitting on plastic chairs waiting for the jab, “I can’t [easily join them]Because I work here,” she said.

So far this year, South Africa has fully vaccinated 17.5% of its population (7 million people) through a single-dose vaccine from Johnson & Johnson or two-dose vaccine from Pfizer, leading the major economies in Africa. In contrast, on the African continent, as rich countries chase limited global supplies, the continent may fall further behind, which is less than 3% of the total Africans.

Although its relative financial influence has allowed it to purchase vaccines in advance and on a large scale, the absorption has begun to fall short of the targets set by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, mainly because it is difficult to sell vaccines to the poor. Distribute vaccines.

Jabs is open to all people over the age of 18, and the public and private sectors give approximately 1 million injections every four days, up from every 14 days in June. This is still below the daily production capacity of approximately 300,000 to 400,000 doses, indicating that the turnout rate is declining.

According to recent surveys, it is estimated that more than 200,000 people have died of Covid-19 based on the excessively high mortality rate. South Africa is the African country most affected by the pandemic. About three-quarters of South Africans want a vaccine.

But the poorest people are also the most likely to have problems going to vaccination sites, taking time off, or not being able to get information about vaccination schedules. Eastern Cape and Limpopo, two rural areas with outreach programs designed to address these issues, have the highest percentage of adult populations inoculated among all provinces.

Russellensburg, director of the South African Rural Health Advocacy Project, said: “We have an absorption problem, but I think it has to do with distribution,” limited access to healthcare and early supply bottlenecks rather than indecision.

‘People left behind’

As the use of vaccines has slowed, some South African companies have begun compulsory vaccination. In early September, Discovery, the largest medical plan provider in South Africa, and Sanlam, the largest insurance company in Africa, stated that they would require injections for all employees starting early next year-the country’s first large public company to do so.

South Africa’s Health Minister Joe Phaahla said that the South African government has not yet considered a national mandate. “Our priority is to mobilize and persuade people to come forward voluntarily.” At the same time, the South African Football Association plans to provide vaccinated fans with free tickets to participate in the upcoming national match against Ethiopia.

In any case, in countries where the official unemployment rate exceeds 34%, the impact of employer-mandated vaccination may be relatively small, and many people (such as Sekwere) rely on informal work for their livelihoods.

Rensburg said concerns about the indecision rate in rich countries are being projected to a country where logistics is a bigger obstacle. “The U.S. was previously vaccinated 50% [hesitancy] Became a problem. We are even less than 20%. “

Rensburg said South Africa should focus on “those who are left behind or not playing,” such as high-risk people over 50. “We have the tools, but we haven’t applied them… If we can properly administer these rural vaccinations, I hope we can provide benchmarks for other African countries.”

Urgently needed supplies

Outside of South Africa, the African continent’s top priority remains to ensure supply. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda said this month that for the country of Rwanda, compulsory injections are a “far-fetched problem”. So far, only about 900,000 of the country’s 13 million people have been vaccinated. “If you don’t have a vaccine, how can you make it mandatory?” he said.

The chart shows the vaccine differences between G7 and Rwanda, Kenya and Nigeria

Last week, Covax, a World Health Organization-supported program to provide vaccines to developing countries, lowered its vaccine delivery forecast for this year by approximately 25%. After the Serum Institute of India and AstraZeneca experienced supply problems, the African Union (AU) has reached an agreement to purchase 400 million doses from Johnson & Johnson by this time next year.

“We doubled our investment in Johnson & Johnson. Because it is a single dose, it is a very good product for us,” said Strive Masiyiwa, the AU special envoy responsible for vaccine procurement. He said that Johnson & Johnson’s delivery is still sporadic. According to estimates by the South African Health Justice Initiative, even South Africa has received only 12% of the 31 million vaccine doses purchased by the country, an NGO dedicated to obtaining vaccines in Africa.

Currently, before the worrying fourth wave erupts, South Africa is trying to increase the acceptance of jabs by emphasizing the availability of supplies. “We are in a position where we can vaccinate them even if the entire Soweto appears… All we need are weapons,” Health Minister Fahra said during a visit to the town for vaccinations last week.

Another Soweto street vendor, 40-year-old Cebile Nqambule, said that although “it’s a good thing to get vaccinated,” it’s not easy to leave work and travel through huge towns.

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