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COVID-19 Vaccines on Track

October 5, 2020

Department of Science and Innovation

It is envisaged that the first successful COVID-19 vaccines will be delivered in early 2021.

The higher education, science and innovation minister, Blade Nzimande, announced this in a statement on the higher education and training response to the Coronavirus Covid-19 lockdown Alert Level 1.

The minister pointed out that the science and innovation department is an active participant in the Health Ministerial Advisory Committee that is looking at the manufacturing of the COVID Vaccines.

The minister added that the “upscaling of the manufacturing pipeline for hundreds of millions, or even billions, of doses will also require intense collaboration and needs to be done in such a way that it will not compromise the production of other essential vaccines”.

According to the minister, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) is in the final stages of preparing for a study to determine the extent of COVID-19 infection in the general population with age-specific prevalence, as determined by seropositivity, which involves getting a positive result in a test of blood serum.

“The proposed study will use two waves of cross-sectional population-based household seroprevalence surveys. The study will be implemented in all the nine provinces. The survey will target all locality types (urban areas, rural formal and rural informal areas).”

A comprehensive COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy is to be developed and implemented that will ensure that there is sufficient supply of a safe and effective vaccine to achieve population immunity to COVID-19.

As regards universities, the minister announced that “we are now in a position to welcome back 100% of our university students, including all those international students who are currently outside the borders of South Africa”.

“All universities are implementing their plans to return all students and staff from the 1st October, subject to any restrictions linked to their own risk assessment due to their local context and conditions.”

In a statement, the science and innovation department pointed out that the HSRC is also working with Higher Health, a higher education and training department initiative, to carry out a COVID-19 knowledge and attitude study in young people.

“The results of the online survey are almost complete and will be made available to the public in due course.”

Meanwhile, the basic education minister, Angie Motshekga, indicated that the basic education department would like to propose that non-contact sport training and physical activities in schools should resume, subject to compliance with measures to prevent and combat the spread of Covid-19.

The minister confirmed that new Directions in this regard will be gazetted once the processes have been completed.

The minister confirmed that the writing of the 2020 National Senior Certificate examination will commence on 5 November 2020 and conclude on 15 December 2020.