President Cyril Ramaphosa says the COVID vaccine procured from India is for all adults living in South Africa, regardless of their citizenship or residence status.
In an address to the nation broadcast on state television and posted on the country’s official presidential website, Ramaphosa dismissed reports that the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India and developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca together with the University of Oxford, would only be available for citizens.
He said, “We will be putting in place measures to deal with the challenge of undocumented migrants so that, as with all other people, we can properly record and track their vaccination history. It is in the best interests of all that as many of us receive the vaccine as possible. But I want to be clear. Nobody will be forced to take this vaccine. Nobody will be forbidden from travelling, from enrolling at school, or from taking part in any public activity if they have not been vaccinated.
“Nobody will be given this vaccine against their will, nor will the vaccine be administered in secret. Any rumours to this effect are both false and dangerous.”
South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the drug’s efficacy.
Ramaphosa said, “The arrival of these vaccines contains the promise that we can turn the tide on this disease that has caused so much devastation and hardship in our country and across the world. The speed and scale at which new vaccines have been developed is unprecedented in human history and represents the monumental progress that humanity can achieve in the face of a common threat.
“South Africa has been part of this incredible journey by the global community in search of a lasting solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank all the South Africans who participated in various vaccines trials on a voluntary basis and commend all the researchers who led these studies. Many of our researchers have participated in ground-breaking research in the field of genomics providing new information about the virus leading to the identification of the variant known as 501Y.V2.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, almost 1.5 million South Africans have contracted COVID-19 and 44,399 died of coronavirus.