The South African government has unveiled the plan to introduce the COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccination is likely to begin in February after the country is hit by a second wave of coronavirus cases.

The Minister of Health, Zweli Mkhize on Sunday, Dec. 3, gave an overview of the government’s strategy for introducing the COVID-19 vaccine and said manufacturers are expected to deliver the COVID-19 vaccines as early as next month, with frontline caregivers a priority.

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“We’re trying to do as much as we can to get some vaccines available much sooner,” Mkhize said.

“We are targeting February,” Dr. Zweli Mkhize said, noting that negotiations with vaccine manufacturers such as Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca, as well as Russian and Chinese laboratories, will need to take place before then.

“All of this will depend on the success of the current bilateral negotiations we are having with various companies,” he added.

To fund the vaccine program, the government plans to seek help from the private sector as well as from the country’s main health insurers.

This comes a week after the South African government made a 15.8 million euro down payment to join Covax, the equitable distribution mechanism for vaccines set up by the U.N. World Health Organization

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However, South Africa which is by far the worst-affected country on the African continent is not expected to receive the first doses of the vaccine under the program until the second quarter of the year.

“It is clear that the second wave we are going through is going to affect us to an even greater extent than in the earlier phase,” the minister said

“The only way to deal with covid-19 not only in South Africa but in the whole world is to provide immunity through vaccination,” Mkhize added.

The country plans to vaccinate 67% of its population of 59 million people to provide sufficient collective immunity to contain the spread of the coronavirus.