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Ramaphosa calls for all countries to receive Covid-19 vaccine

President Cyril Ramaphosa pleaded with G20 Leaders at an annual summit to ensure that all countries have access to the Covid-19 vaccine once it is available. 

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In a two-day annual summit facilitated by Saudi Arabia, President Ramaphosa addressed fellow G20 leaders on the inclusivity of the recently announced Covid-19 vaccines which are not yet available for use in clinics. 

"Another immediate task for the G20 is to ensure that there is equitable and affordable access for all countries to the Covid-19 vaccine once it is developed,”

-President Cyril Ramaphosa

In the African continent, South Africa has been hit the hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic with over 20 000 deaths and over 700 000 confirmed cases. Thus, it is important that all countries are provided with the vaccine to ensure a global recovery from the virus. 

"I would like to call upon the G20 countries to assist with the funding shortfalls for the access to COVID-19 tools accelerator to ensure that this platform is able to deliver on its mandate," Ramaphosa said.

"Let us all continue to work together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation to ensure that the global recovery is inclusive." Ramaphosa states. 

 The coronavirus vaccine from Pfizer has an efficacy of 95%, while the Moderna vaccine reduced the risk of contracting the virus by 94,5%.

A health systems advisor at World Health Organisation (WHO), Rajesh Narwal, believes that there will be a rush by nations to secure stock of these vaccines.  

“The point is that already a lot of these vaccines have already been pre procured by wealthier nations,” said Narwal at a webinar that discussed the implications of an international Covid-19 vaccine policy. 

There is a general fear that Western countries would receive the vaccine first while African and other Third World countries will receive it later. 

Narwal anticipates the arrival of the vaccine in South Africa by either the first quarter of 2021 but more likely in the second quarter. 

When the vaccine arrives, South Africa like countries around the world are set to take a phased approach. This would see health professionals being prioritised, followed by the elderly and people with comorbidities and then other essential workers and the rest of the population. 

“This access needs to be done in such a way that it does not put strain on economies and the people,” Narwal adds. 

Khadija Jamaloodien of the National Department of Health, said that the government has put measures in place to facilitate the arrival of a vaccine.

“The goal is to have access to and supply a safe and an effective Covid-19 vaccine,” Jamaloodien said. 

However, experts say that if South Africa were to manufacture Covid-19 vaccines it would be very costly. 

“To build capacity across Africa we need to take into account that we need R2 billion to establish a facility that can fill 500 million doses, and to put this facility together will take two years.” said Glaudina Loots, the director for Health Innovation at the Department of Science and Technology.

 An additonal R2 billion would be required to manufacture the vaccines. 

Narwal warned that while we await the highly anticipated arrival of the vaccine next year, health authorities and South Africans should guard against virus fatigue as the festive season approaches. 

Everyone is advised to keep washing and sanitizing their hands, to steer clear of crowded spaces and to continue to wear their masks out in public spaces to prevent the spread of the virus. 

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