As government ramps up the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, has assured South Africans that vaccines are safe, effective and protect lives.
Addressing a media briefing on government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19 and the national vaccination rollout programme, the Minister said South Africa has a system to monitor side effects and investigate where there is serious illness or death soon after vaccination.
“So far, the deaths that have been investigated… have been found to be because of prior COVID-19, which happened before vaccination and had not been detected or other pre-existing illnesses,” Phaahla said on Friday.
He said there is evidence that only 1% of people who are admitted to hospital with COVID-19 are those who have been vaccinated, compared to 99% being those who are not vaccinated.
The country has to date administered 9 185 756 vaccines, with 2 021 520 people receiving the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, while 7 164 236 have received the Pfizer vaccine.
“There is ample evidence that even the one dose of the Pfizer vaccine gives protection of up to 80% against severe disease, hospital admission and possible death. At the national level, Gauteng, as the most populated province, is leading in doses administered, with about 1.8 million people having been vaccinated.
“In terms of the highest percentage of the population, the Eastern Cape is leading with just 23.23% of its population having received a vaccine, followed by Limpopo that has vaccinated 20.8% of its population. It is very gratifying that the rural provinces are leading in the vaccination programme,” the Minister said.
Females are leading in getting vaccinated, accounting for 59.74% of the vaccines that have been administered, while males account for 40.26%.
Over the last seven days, the country has been on a downward trend of the pandemic but the Minister has warned South Africans against letting their guard down, as the country is still experiencing the third wave.
“The Gauteng province has reached the peak of its third wave and is on a continuous downward slope, while the Western Cape has continuously had the highest daily cases, active cases and hospital admissions.
“Overall, the country’s active cases have reduced by 7%, hospital admissions have been reduced by 4.4% and therefore, there is a little bit relief on the pressure on our hospitals. Overall, there has been a reduction of hospital admissions,” the Minister said.
New cases have reduced by under one percent. The numbers for the deaths from COVID-19 have been reducing but are still unacceptably high, Phaahla said.
“The national positivity rate has also been decreasing, from a high of 35% positive rate in the middle of July to an average over the last seven days of between 19% and 20%. To show that this is not stable, yesterday the positivity rate was 23%.
“Our situation remains precarious. This is no time to lower our guard, no time to relax the restrictions, and we will not recommend to the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) and Cabinet for a relaxation of the restrictions. We will recommend we remain on level three,” the Minister said.
The latest statistics show that South Africa recorded 14 271 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 568 511.
“Our hospitals in all nine provinces still have enough capacity to handle those who need care in the ordinary and high care wards in our intensive care units (ICUs),” the Minister said. – SAnews.gov.za