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1 million COVID vaccine doses to arrive from India on February 1: South African health minister

After the arrival of the vaccine doses via Dubai, these will undergo some processes for 10 to 14 days, after which these will be distributed among provinces, he said during a virtual press conference.

January 28, 2021 / 07:56 AM IST

South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said a million coronavirus vaccine doses will arrive from India in the country on February 1.

After the arrival of the vaccine doses via Dubai, these will undergo some processes for 10 to 14 days, after which these will be distributed among provinces, he said during a virtual press conference.

Mkhize had earlier announced that South Africa would receive the first batch of a million vaccine doses form India by the January-end and a further 500,000 doses in February.

The vaccine will be first administered to health care workers and other priority sector staff in the first phase of the campaign, which aims to vaccinate 67 per cent of South Africa's 58.5 million citizens to achieve herd immunity before the end of 2021.

Receiving one million vaccines less than a year after first the COVID-19 infection was recorded is a massive achievement, the minister said as he commended the volunteers who participated in the vaccine trials.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Officials said all health workers will receive the vaccine free of cost.

Those who are insured will pay the cost through their medical aid schemes while the government will absorb the cost of vaccination for the uninsured workers, believed to be about 350,000.

Businesses or corporates who may want to vaccinate their employees may also do so at their workplaces and bear the costs involved.

Pharmacies with a guaranteed cold chain facility will be allowed to purchase the stock of the vaccine.

They may then either claim the cost of vaccine doses administered from medical aid schemes or from the government for uninsured members. An electronic vaccine data system will be implemented as a control measure.
PTI
first published: Jan 28, 2021 07:21 am

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