South Africa needs to vaccinate 140,000 people daily to meet target

Data journalists at the Media Hack Collective have published an online tool to track the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in South Africa – including forward projections on how long it will take to achieve the 67% inoculation target set by government.

The latest data published by the Department of Health shows that 145,544 people have been vaccinated in South Africa since the rollout started on 17 February 2021.

This points to a daily average of just over 6,000 vaccinations. As the Media Hack Collective’s tool shows, at this rate, it would take 18 years and 16 days to hit the vaccination target.

Government needs to ramp up its vaccine rollout significantly to hit this target. More specifically, the country needs to consistently vaccinate 140,000 people a day to hit 67% coverage by the end of the year.

Missed targets

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has tacitly admitted that government is likely to miss its target of 67% of the population vaccinated by the end of the year.

Responding to questions in parliament on Wednesday (10 March), Mkhize said the annual target is constantly reviewed amid new data inflow.

Government had initially aimed to vaccinate 1.5 million people by the end of March, and 42 million people by December. However, with 16 days remaining in the month, this target is unlikely to be met, as it would require some 82,000 vaccinations daily. The country does not have the man power, or vaccines.

Mkhize said that meeting the vaccination targets depends on vaccine doses being delivered by the manufacturing companies as per an agreed quarterly schedule.

Government has secured a total of 43 million doses through deals with from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and the Covax group. However, just a fraction of these vaccines have been delivered, with the manufacturers operating on a quarterly basis for deliveries.

For the first quarter, which ends on 31 March, government has anticipated 500,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson and 600,000 doses from Pfizer. This makes it difficult to track annual targets, the health minister said.

40,000 additional doses of the J&J vaccine arrived in the country on Saturday, with another 40,000 doses expected this coming weekend.

Third wave

The Democratic Alliance has criticised the government for not being honest about its vaccinating targets and the success or failure of the rollout to date.

It said that the country is barely “scraping” the target of 10,000 vaccinations a day, and even if it managed to consistently hit that number, it will still be “wholly inadequate”.

“Instead vaccinating 65% of the population by the end of the year, the target will only be met by 2031. It is becoming apparent that South Africa’s vaccine rollout has failed before it has even started,” it said.

This is particularly concerning because the country is expected to face its third wave of infections in the coming months.

Th DA said that if the government doesn’t pick up its game in rolling out vaccines, the country will remain in an “endless loop of lockdowns and Covid-19 infections – which will cost lives and shove millions into an inescapable cycle of poverty”.

“There has never been a greater imperative for the South African government than this. Silence on this can only mean the crisis is worse than anticipated. That is why we need an urgent update on this process,” the party said.


Read: Mkhize on South Africa hitting its Covid-19 vaccine targets

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South Africa needs to vaccinate 140,000 people daily to meet target