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Covid-19 vaccine for '10% of our population' ready early next year, says Ramaphosa

Matthew Savides Night news editor

About 10% of the country's population will have access to a Covid-19 vaccine “in the early part of next year”.

This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was speaking during an address to the nation on Monday night.

He said there was no doubt that a second infection wave was hitting the country, and called on South Africans to wear masks, sanitise, wash hands and maintain social distances to try to limit the spread of the virus. This, he said, was the best defence until a vaccine was available.

“As we have said in the past, the only viable defence we will have against Covid-19 will be the vaccine. South Africa has concluded all the necessary processes to ensure its participation in the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility.

“This facility — known as Covax — pools resources and shares vaccine development risk to ensure equitable access to vaccines when they become available. As part of this facility, it is expected that South Africa will receive initial vaccines to cover 10% of our population in the early part of next year,” he said.

Ramaphosa added that SA was part of the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team, which is “looking at alternative financing mechanisms to secure additional vaccines for African countries beyond Covax”.

He said health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was part of this team and was “also looking at innovative partnerships with the private sector to ensure that South Africans have access to an effective vaccine that is suitable to our conditions”.