Monday, 04 January 2021 22:57

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said on his daily update that South Africa has recorded 12 601 new coronavirus cases, bringing the total of infections to 1 113 349. This is a 33.7% positivity rate.

Gauteng is leading with 301 212 cases, which is 27.% of the total number of cases. Other provinces that are seeing an increased number of cases include the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape.

A cumulative total of 6 780 272 tests have been conducted with 37 419 tests conducted since the last report.

The minister said a further 434 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 133 , Free State 2, Gauteng 36, Kwa-Zulu Natal 71, Limpopo 7, North West 25, Northern Cape 3 and Western Cape 157.

This means we have breached the 30 000 mark for the cumulative number of COVID-19 related deaths identified, at 30 011.

Mkhize added that the recovery rate has slightly dipped from the previous 82.1% and now stands at 81.9%.

Meanwhile Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE offered to supply South Africa with their Covid-19 vaccine at a discounted $10 a dose, yet the president’s office still described the cost as prohibitive, according to a person familiar with the talks.

The price was worked out according to South Africa’s status as a middle-income nation and is about half of what the drugmakers are charging in the U.S., the person said, asking not to be identified as the information hasn’t been made public. The fact that the companies are running a vaccine trial in the country was also taken into consideration, the person said.

A spokeswoman for South Africa’s Department of Health said the ministry can’t comment on the pricing as a deal is yet to be concluded. Representatives for Pfizer and BioNTech in Europe declined to comment on the ongoing talks, though said they are "firmly committed to equitable and affordable access for Covid-19 vaccines for people around the world, including South Africa."

South Africa’s government is coming under mounting pressure from its labor-union allies, opposition parties and medical professionals over its failure to secure any bilateral vaccine-supply agreements with pharmaceutical companies. While at least 29 countries have already begun inoculating their populations, South Africa only expects to start getting shots for about 10% of its population in the second quarter. That deal has been arranged through the Covax initiative, which is designed to ensure poorer countries can secure access.

The country has more than 1.1 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 30,000 deaths, the most of any African nation.

Compiled by Lehlohonolo Lehana.