By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
South Africa is set to receive a donation of 5.66 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from the US government.
White House officials told Reuters that nearly 10 million doses will be shipped to Nigeria and South Africa from Wednesday, as they were two of the most populous counties on the continent.
Four million doses of the Moderna vaccine will go to Nigeria and 5.66 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will go to South Africa.
Last month, the Biden-Harris administration announced an allocation plan for 55 million doses to be shared globally.
"This vaccine strategy is a vital component of our overall global effort to lead the world in the fight to defeat Covid-19, and to achieve global health security," read a statement from the White House.
The shipment, en route to South Africa, is the largest sent by the US since it began sending Covid-19 vaccine doses to other countries. The US has sent a total of 16.4 million doses to the African continent.
According to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the continent has administered more than 61 million vaccine doses to its population of over 1.3 billion people.
South Africa has administered more than 6.8 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, which accounts for around 10% of the population, who have received at least one shot.
"Sharing millions of US vaccines with other countries signals a major commitment by the US Government," said the White House.
The urgently needed help comes amid growing concerns about vaccination rates in Africa, which lag far behind those of advanced economies.
Meanwhile the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD),reports 17 351 new COVID-19 cases that have been identified in South Africa, which brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2 408 525. This increase represents a 24.4% positivity rate.
The majority of new cases today are from Gauteng (30%), followed by Western Cape (27%). KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 11%; Mpumalanga and North West each accounted for 7%; Limpopo accounted for 6%; Eastern Cape accounted for 5%; Free State accounted for 4%; and Northern Cape accounted for 2% of today’s new cases.
NICD said a further 520 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported, bringing total fatalities to 70 908 to date.