By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement that 237 more Covid-19 related deaths and 2488 new infections were recorded on Thursday night.
This takes South Africa’s Covid-19 infections to over 1.48 million infections since March, with the death toll now at 47 382 coronavirus related deaths.
Of the new deaths, 82 were in Gauteng, 46 were in the Eastern Cape, 36 were in KwaZulu-Natal, 25 were in the Free State, 19 were in Mpumalanga, 17 were in the Western Cape, and 12 were in Limpopo.
To date, 1,377,980 recoveries have been recorded, at a recovery rate of 92.8%.
Earlier on Thursday night, while delivering the State of the Nation Address, President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the government would receive 80 000 doses of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine next week, with a further 500 000 doses of the same vaccine expected within the next four weeks.
"All provinces have roll-out plans in place as the first vaccines come through.
"I wish to thank all provinces for their level of preparedness for this massive undertaking that we are about to embark upon," said Ramaphosa.
Johnson & Johnson will provide a total of 9 million doses and they will kickstart South Africa’s mass vaccination drive after government took a decision on Sunday to put the AstraZeneca vaccine on hold after questions arose over its efficacy in relation to the dominant 501Y.V2 variant, which is now the dominant and more infectious variant in South Africa.
It was identified by local scientists in December.
Ramaphosa also confirmed that South Africa was expecting 12 million vaccine doses from the Covax facility, 20 million doses from Pfizer and an undisclosed number of doses through the AU’s African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team facility.
Commenting on the AstraZeneca vaccine saga, he said: "We applaud these scientists for leading this research and providing new evidence that is vital for guiding our response".
The scientists had presented a study which showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine offered minimal protection from mild to moderate infection from the 501Y.V2 variant.
"Since this variant is now the dominant variant in our country, these findings have significant implications for the pace, design and sequencing of our vaccine programme," he said.
Ramaphosa said the government was still talking with vaccine manufacturers about securing sufficient and suitable quantities required for the country.