Health department sets new vaccination target – and won’t recommend easing lockdown

The Department of Health has set an ambitious target of vaccinating at least 70% – 90% of the adult population by December 2021 (between 28 million and 36 million people).

This is in line with the target set by the department in July, where it said it aims to have 35 million people vaccinated by Christmas.

In a presentation on Friday (13 August), newly-appointed health minister Dr Joe Phaahla said the country has now reached a landmark of over 9.1 million vaccines administered.

The number of fully vaccinated people in the country, including one dose of Johnson & Johnson and a double dose of Pfizer vaccines, stands at four million. The number of vaccinations in South Africa is expected to rapidly increase from September as the government opens vaccines to people between 18 – 35.

The department encouraged those over the age of 35 to get vaccinated sooner rather than later, warning that there will likely be much longer queues at vaccination sites from next month.

Lockdown restrictions

While health experts and government officials have said that South Africa has passed the peak of its third wave of Covid-19 infections, a spike in cases reported on Thursday has caused alarm.

A total of 14,271 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours, with 473 deaths reported.

The cumulative number of Covid-19 cases identified in South Africa is 2,568,511, and the cumulative number of recoveries now stands at 2,344,896, with a recovery rate of 91.3%.

Phaahla said that as the third wave is still ongoing, South Africans should not expect a relaxation in restrictions.

“We are still far from where we can say the third wave is out. As the department, we will be in no way recommend a relaxation of the restriction at this stage,” he said.

On 27 June, president Cyril Ramaphosa announced a move to lockdown level 4, which included banning alcohol sales, social gatherings (excluding funerals), and leisure travel to and from Gauteng.

These were relaxed on 27 July as the country moved to lockdown level 3.

In a report published this week, professional services firm PwC compiled three scenarios for how South Africa’s lockdown levels could move until the end of the year.

Both PwC’s baseline and downside assumptions consider a likely fourth wave of infections starting around the December holidays.

Baseline scenario

  • Level 3 ‘lite’ lockdown to be in place for the rest of August as Covid-19 numbers improve.
  • Level 1 in September, as the third wave infections taper out, continued through October and November.
  • Level 2 lockdown in December as infections start to rise, starting the fourth wave.

Downside scenario

  • Level 3 ‘lite’ lockdown to mid-August with the possibility of more restrictions being added if infection numbers do not improve.
  • Level 2 lockdown in September and October.
  • Level 1 lockdown in November provides a brief reprieve.
  • Level 2 lockdown in December as infections start to rise, starting the fourth wave.

Upside scenario

  • Level 2 lockdown as early as mid-August as numbers improve.
  • Level 1 in September as third wave infections taper out, continuing to October.
  • No restrictions in November.
  • Level 1 re-introduced in December as a precautionary move to delay the fourth wave.

Read: New retirement changes in the works for South Africa – and they could be in effect as early as 2022

Must Read

Partner Content

Show comments

Trending Now

Follow Us

Health department sets new vaccination target – and won’t recommend easing lockdown