South Africa, which sees signs of a third wave of Covid-19 arriving, is launching its large-scale vaccination campaign on Monday, May 17, primarily targeting those over 60 and those at risk.
The government plans to vaccinate 16.6 million people in six months to immunize its population, including about 5 million over the age of 60 by the end of June.
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These goals will be achieved if vaccine orders are delivered on time, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday (May 17th). "
By the end of June, we hope to have received 4.5 million doses of Pfizer and two million doses of Johnson & Johnson,
" he added.
African country officially the most affected by the pandemic with more than 1.6 million infections including 55,210 deaths, South Africa has so far vaccinated only 1% of its population, in a first phase of clinical trials launched in February with health personnel, and suspended several times.
First, the British vaccine AstraZeneca was ruled out in early February, after doubts about its effectiveness against the local variant.
Then, the American vaccine Johnson & Johnson was suspended in mid-April, after cases of blood clots noted in the United States.
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The government recently resumed vaccination of the country's 1.25 million caregivers but the African power has fallen behind, when the European Union or the United States promise to vaccinate a vast majority of their population by the summer .
Lagging behind in the global vaccine race, the South African government says it has now purchased enough doses for at least 45 million of the estimated 59 million people. That is enough to achieve collective immunity, a goal initially planned for the end of the year. South Africa received at the beginning of May a first batch of more than 320,000 vaccines from the American laboratory Pfizer, for a total order of 4.5 million doses. After a lull, contaminations have climbed again in recent weeks in South Africa, hard hit by a second wave at the end of 2020.