Last week South Africa’s first batch of single jab Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines landed in the country. The batch was only 80 000 of a reported nine million that has been secured, but the National Department of Health (NDoH) has wasted no time in getting frontline healthcare workers inoculated.
To date an estimated 15 388 healthcare workers have been inoculated to date, along with a few government officials including the Health Minister and President.
Unpacking some of the elements of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the weekend, the NDoH confirms that it provides 57 percent protection against moderate-severe disease, 85 percent defence against severe disease and 100 percent against death, based on evidence from the clinical trials that included South African participants.
If those promising numbers are to be believed, this much-needed vaccine presents an opportunity for life to return to normal for the country. As for when that happens, however, remains to be seen, especially as the precise timelines for the next phases of the rollout are yet to be disclosed, with the general public likely having to wait until the latter half of the year.
In the interim, the NDoH has confirmed that a significant portion of the first batch of vaccines have been earmarked for private healthcare workers via the Sisonke Early Access Programme.
“This means that one-third of the first 80 000 vaccines will be allocated to the private sector over the next 14 days. This is critical and is aligned with the national prioritisation framework for phase one of the national vaccine roll-out programme,” explains the NDoH.
“The confidence by healthcare workers in the vaccine and the protection it offers is evident in the queues and higher than planned demand from doctors and nurses across the country,” it adds.
With more vaccine batches expected, the next aspect of the rollout for the NDOH to sort out is waiting time, which has presented some issues that require attention.
“We are confident that our partnership across public and private sectors will help to overcome these short-term process challenges and result in us being able to protect many healthcare workers in a shorter period of time,” the NDoH promises.
In order to assist in this regard, government is once again asking that all healthcare workers register via the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) here.
[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 GovernmentZA on Flickr]