South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that the country will gravitate towards developing their own vaccines for coronavirus and other pandemics.
The president was responding to questions in parliament on his State of The Nation Address when he made the disclosure: “I have asked the Minister of Higher Education and Innovation to put together a team of scientists to begin the process of developing our own vaccines to deal with this and future pandemics.
“We now live in an era where we pandemics may become more frequent and we must therefore be self-reliant in relation to diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines. We must develop the scientific capabilities that our country has demonstrated to prepare for the future,” he added.
South Africa is Africa’s most impacted country on the continent by way of case load. The country started vaccination yesterday with Ramaphosa receiving the first jab of Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
An initial importation of AstraZeneca vaccines was put on hold after the government realized that it had limited capability against the country’s strain of the virus. Government says it will through the African Union, sell the one million doses to other African countries.
Ramaphosa’s call is the second across Africa. Senegalese president Macky Sall yesterday tasked the Institut Pasteur in Dakar — which produces a vaccine against yellow fever, to examine the possibility of locally producing coronavirus vaccines.
Senegal took delivery of its first batch of coronavirus vaccines on Wednesday. The 200,000 Sinopharm doses were flown in from China. They cost the government an estimated USD 3.8 million.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Senegal has recorded almost 32,000 cases — including 760 deaths, and infections have increased in the past few months.
Major African stats: Feb 18, 2021 at 06:30 GMT
Total confirmed cases = 3,785,411
Active confirmed cases = 352,782
Recovered = 3,332,815
Confirmed deaths = 99,814
Countries with over 100,000 cases
South Africa, is most impacted in Africa with close to 1.5 million cases.
Total confirmed cases = 1,496,439
Active confirmed cases = 48,132
Recovered = 1,399,829
Deaths = 48,478