Tue 02 February 2021:
South Africa’s president confirmed late Monday that no one will be forced to take the coronavirus vaccine against their will, nor will it be administered in secret.
“I want to be clear. Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated,” Cyril Ramaphosa said in a televised address to the nation.
“Any rumors to this effect are both false and dangerous,” he said.
South Africa on Monday received its first consignment of one million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India. The country is expected to receive more doses from various manufacturers in the coming weeks.
The president said the vaccines will be tested at the country’s National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation.
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After the testing, the vaccines will be distributed across the country to thousands of health care workers who risk their lives daily to save others.
The president said all health care workers in both the public and private sectors will be prioritized for vaccination in the first phase.
He said Phase 2 of the national vaccine strategy will target essential workers, people over 60 years old and people with comorbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels.
“In Phase 3, we will extend the vaccination program to the rest of the adult population,” he confirmed.
South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent with 1,456,309 confirmed cases and 44,399 deaths. It is also the 15th most affected country in the world.
The South African leader said he is impressed by the speed and scale at which new vaccines have been developed, saying this is unprecedented in human history and represents the monumental progress that humanity can achieve in the face of a common threat.
South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the Covishield vaccine’s efficacy.
“I want to thank all the South Africans who participated in various vaccine trials on a voluntary basis and commend all the researchers who led these studies,” Ramaphosa added.
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