After United States President Joe Biden said that the country wanted the US to return to a degree of normalcy from 4 July 2021, the country’s vaccine rollout plan was put in full swing with about 2.3 million people being vaccinated every day. While the US rolled out this monthly plan, in South Africa this might take years.
According to NPR, since vaccine distribution began in the United States on 14 December, more than 107 million doses have been administered, reaching 21% of the total US population, according to federal data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In SA, data journalists at the Media Hack Collective have published an online tool to track the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa – including projections on how long it will take to achieve the 67% inoculation target set by the government.
And so, according to the coronavirus vaccination calculator, it has been revealed that South Africa’s vaccination stands at 147 753 since the rollout started on 17 February 2021. That’s an average of 5 910 vaccinations a day. What’s more, it is said that it will take 18 years, six months and eight 8 days to vaccinate 67% of South Africa’s population at the current rate.
According to BusinessTech, the government needs to ramp up its vaccine rollout significantly to hit this target. More specifically, the country needs to consistently vaccinate 140 000 people a day to hit 67% coverage by the end of the year.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has actually admitted that government is likely to miss its target of 67% of the population vaccinated by the end of the year. Responding to questions in parliament on 10 March, Mkhize said the annual target is constantly reviewed amid new data inflow. He said that the vaccination targets depends on vaccine doses being delivered by the manufacturing companies as per an agreed quarterly schedule.
“The government has secured a total of 43 million doses through deals with Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and the Covax group,” the publication writes. “However, just a fraction of these vaccines has been delivered, with the manufacturers operating on a quarterly basis for deliveries.”
For the first quarter, which ends on 31 March, the government has anticipated 500 000 doses of Johnson & Johnson and 600 000 doses from Pfizer. This makes it difficult to track annual targets, the health minister said further.
Mkhize has also said that it is not easy to forecast when exactly the third wave of COVID-19 cases will strike, but said current projections point to between April and May 2021.
“We need to understand that while we may not be able to predict accurately when the next surge is coming, it may well come when we have huge movement of people coming during the public meetings, or during the Easter weekend or during the Easter holidays when people are moving up and down. That might have an impact as well. We will be observing to see what is happening at that time,” he said.
Mkhize also emphasised the importance of sticking to the necessary COVID-19 preventative guidelines, adding that such could even help delay the third wave.
“We think that the reduction in the numbers in the last wave was actually because of the extent at which people were using masks and so on. If we can keep it like that, we believe we can delay the next wave but there is suspicion that we probably might end up with another wave late April, May or so, but there is no clear model that tells us that,” he said.