Chairperson of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) Professor Helen Rees says once a coronavirus vaccine has been procured, monitoring of its efficacy will be key to the success of a vaccination campaign.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said government is still in talks with pharmaceutical companies however, no deals have been signed yet.
Rees says SAHPRA could grant approval for the emergency use of a vaccine candidate if the need arises.
“A lot of monitoring will be important because as we have all seen, we’ve compressed the time for the development of a vaccine from normally at least five years plus into one year so we going to have very rigorous monitoring particularly of safety and effectiveness.”
Mkhize also said the aim is to vaccinate 67% of the population.
This amounts to over 60-million people by the end of the year.
The first doses of vaccine in terms of the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility had only been expected to be available in South Africa by around April.
Rees says they will engage their counterparts in various countries to enhance reviews of various vaccines.
“We are also working closely with some of the larger very well-resourced regulatory authorities such as the one in the US called the FDA, the Europeans and the United Kingdom. So, we have relationships that will allow us to share information and we are also working with African regulatory authorities where we will be sharing reviews. But the bottom line is that for SAHPRA, we have a dedicated team who are already working and looking at applications that we are receiving so that we can fast track these reviews. It might be that we give emergency approval but we will absolutely ensure that we have safe, effective and good quality vaccines made available.”
Vaccine rollout plan
According to the government, the vaccine is going to be rolled out in three phases.
- Front line healthcare workers (HCW). Target population: 1 250 000
- Essential workers. Target population: 2 500 000
- Persons in congregate settings. Target population: 1 100 000
- Persons > 60 years. Target population: 5 000 000
- Persons >18 years with co-morbidities. Target population: 8 000 000
- Other persons >18 years. Target population: 22 500 000
In the video below, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize provides more clarity on the rollout plan: