Friday, July 1 2022

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla told the National Council of Provinces that current scientific reports suggest vaccination still offers protection against the new variant of Covid-19 C.1.2 identified in South Africa.

The variant – which has been detected in all provinces at low frequency – is reported to be more transmissible, resistant to neutralization, and causes greater disease severity.

The minister was speaking at the ministerial briefing of the National Provincial Council on the vaccination program.

“The NICD (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) and professors from KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform (KRISP) reported to the National Coronavirus Command Council this morning (and) the information at this point is that this variant is still responding. to vaccines.

“As to whether there will be any boosters, the information at the moment suggests that down the road we may need boosters. But that’s not really a priority for South Africa at this point. (Ours) is to make sure no one is left behind, ”Phaahla said.

In an earlier statement, the NICD reiterated that vaccines would still offer protection.

“Based on our understanding of the mutations in this variant, we suspect that it might be able to partially evade the immune response, but despite this, vaccines will still offer high levels of protection against hospitalization and disease. dead.

“This must be combined with all other public health and social measures.

“We advise the public to remain vigilant and to continue to follow the Covid-19 protocols by ensuring good ventilation in all shared spaces, by wearing masks, by washing or disinfecting their hands and surfaces regularly, and by keeping as far as possible 1.5 m from others. »Says the institute.

The minister further told NCOP that the country’s immunization program is still well equipped and able to function on a day-to-day basis.

“We have sufficient vaccine capacity in terms of doses. We also have enough in terms of vaccination sites and vaccination capacity.

“Our main challenge is to reach people. Our goal is to reach 70% of the adult population by December 16, a minimum of 28 million adults, but we would like to do better, ”he said.

Vaccine numbers

According to Phaahla, more than nine million South Africans have been fully immunized, and at least three million more have received a dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Nearly 250,000 vaccines were administered on Monday.

“Even a single dose gives you good protection. A single dose of the two-dose vaccine has been shown to give you 80% protection and when you get your second dose it gives you over 90% protection against serious illness.

“When you are infected when you are vaccinated, you carry less virus and you also transmit less,” he said.

Phaahla explained that while there has been good uptake of the vaccines since it opened to all adults in the country, some age groups still lag behind.

“(For the) 35 to 49 years old, we build ourselves and it’s a challenge. The 50 to 59 year olds (age group) is also always a challenge. This is an age group that we always hope to increase – the 50 to 59 year olds. We have surprisingly done a lot better over the 60-69 year olds.

“We are open to everyone, but it is important to monitor the age groups, because age is a major factor in serious illness and the end of hospitalization. As much as we want all adults to be vaccinated, we want to prioritize, if possible, 90 to 100% of those over 60 and over 50. If the next wave comes, it will protect us much better (sic), ”he said.

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