Approval for the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine is still hanging in the fresh air as testing on healthcare workers is ongoing.
This emerged in a media briefing and even though the J&J vaccine has not yet been approved for roll-out but only for use under trial purposes, more than 92 000 people – mainly healthcare workers – have been vaccinated to date yesterday.
According to South African Medical Research Council Professor Glenda Gray, they are currently on the first phase of the Sisonke programme and are targeting healthcare workers in a 70:30 split of the public and private sector.
“The roll-out of the vaccines will occur in a approach that is phased. In the first phase, vaccines will be administered to more than 1.2 million healthcare workers,” said Gray.
“The second phase will include essential workers – including those living in a congregate setting with more than 1.1 million targeted population – persons over 60 years of age and persons above 18 years with comorbidities.”
Gray explained that since SA recently started its vaccine rollout, front-line healthcare workers have been getting a jab of the J&J vaccine while more vaccines were expected by the end of March.
She also said that the second phase of the roll-out would be for essential workers like teachers and law enforcement officers and would be administered through private settings (pharmacies, doctors and work-based vaccinations) and health that is public such as hospitals, clinics, outreach based vaccination and mobile clinics.
“In the third phase, we will shift to a routine strategy, targeting the rest of the general public who are over 18 years to achieve herd immunity through open vaccinations which will be administered through the public and private sector, as per previous vaccinations but with strong focus on primary healthcare.”
Yesterday, the Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said more must be done immediately to ensure lower-income countries have faster access to Covid-19 vaccines.
“By mid-January, more than seven billion vaccine that is covid-19 had been purchased globally, with 4.2-billion doses having gone to high-income countries.
“While high-income countries represent only 16% of the world’s population, they currently hold 60% of the vaccines for Covid-19 that have been purchased so far, according to research by Duke University,” said the foundation in a statement.
“This is not a time for selfishness, this is a time for access, equity and solidarity.”