Despite promising vaccines in the pipeline, Mkhize warned that even if the country manages to vaccinate many South Africans this year, people will need to continue wearing masks and practising social distancing and good hand hygiene “until we are able to conclude the risk of infection has abated”.
He said there are discussions about manufacturing Covid-19 vaccines locally.
The minister said President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed a team that works with him, led by minister of higher education, science and technology Blade Nzimande, which is looking into the capacity of producing vaccines in SA. A number of developing world countries are part of the discussions.
Professor Barry Schoub, chairperson of the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee, commended local scientists for their research on Covid-19, saying new developments around the efficacy of vaccines reflects the depth of science in the country.
“The intellectual resources we have enabled us to pick up the variant, which is important to guide where we go from here. We have world class science in Southern Africa.”
“Our immediate challenge is where we go from here in the very short term.”
While the news about the AstraZeneca vaccine is disappointing, Schoub said it is not all doom and gloom.
“ We may need to look at a combination of vaccine. We need to investigate the AstraZeneca vaccine more to see if can we use it more effectively.”