South Africa is nearing plans to inject $712 million to vaccinate 67% of its population as to control the spread of the coronavirus in the country as well as to revive the economy which had faced a slopping decline of 7.2% last year.
South Africa was already in the midst of an economy recession prior to the pandemic, which seemingly got worse due to government imposed lockdowns, causing an estimated 2 million job losses.
Speaking on the planned financial backing, Tito Mboweni, South Africa’s Finance Minister, said that the anticipated vaccination drive will help the economy to rebound by 3.4% in 2021. With this framework, the government has determined the required budget for the country’s vaccination drive.
The planned investment of over $712 million will be used for the purchase and delivery of vaccines over the next two years, said Mboweni, adding that the vaccines would be given to all South Africans for free and the new budget refrains from imposing any tax hikes for individuals and businesses in order to stimulate economic recovery.
South Africa had recently witnessed its first phase of vaccination drive which saw successful inoculation of an estimated 500,000 front-line health care workers with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. The J&J vaccine has been approved for testing purposes in the country, however, has yet to gain approved for general use.
Earlier, South Africa had planned to opt for the AstraZeneca vaccine and had purchased and received 1 million doses of the jab. But, speculating studies indicating the low effectiveness of the vaccine (only 22%) against mild to moderate COVID-19 variant in South Africa led to choosing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which indicated a 57% efficacy against mild to moderate and 85% efficacy against severe COVID-19 symptoms.