Dear B4SA and healthcare colleagues
You will undoubtedly have followed developments over the past few days related to the South African COVID-19 vaccine acquisition and rollout programme. Colleagues will be aware that we established the B4SA vaccine platform to provide up-to-date information on bilateral and multilateral engagements with government, hopefully enabling businesses to respond to the latest news.
To this end, I would like to update you.
According to reports, scientists pronounced the results initially shown in the human trials of Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca match what is happening among people vaccinated. They also reported no unexpected safety problems have emerged.
The research showed that a wide range of people, particularly those at high risk of severe disease, benefit from the vaccines. Some of the reports globally indicate:
• Israel: Pfizer (two-dose vaccine) was 92% effective at preventing infections overall
• Scotland: Pfizer and AstraZeneca (single dose) led to 85% and 94% reduced hospitalisation, respectively
Where we stand with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine: As of 4 March 2021, the total number of vaccines administered to HWCs was 88 570. A total of 500 000 doses of J&J vaccines will arrive in South Africa (supplied for free). These are registered for use within a research setting known as an implementation study.
While there is enough data to show the vaccine is safe and effective, J&J will use the opportunity to collect additional data on side effects and its efficacy against the SARS-CoV-2 variant, 501Y.V2.
Martin Kingston, Chairman of the B4SA Steering Committee
Service Delivery Platforms and Vaccine Delivery Readiness
The past week has been extremely busy in light of actual vaccinations taking place at the 17 identified research sites. Ironing out teething problems related to Phase 1(a) was viewed as a priority over the past few days.
We have made considerable progress. As of the weekend ending 28 February 2021, over 60 000 HCWs had been vaccinated, with additional large private hospital facilities coming on-stream over the next two weeks to support this rollout. By the end of that weekend, an additional 75 520 J&J doses were delivered, with 24 795 earmarked for the private sector.
The private hospitals (and their affiliated HCWs) have been allocated 33%, with the public hospitals allocated 67% of the doses coming through as batch 2 of the J&J vaccine.
As President Ramaphosa said in his address to the nation on Sunday evening, 28 February, for the second batch of J&J vaccines, the number of relevant vaccine sites will be extended to 49, with an additional 17 sites coming on-stream from the private sector.
Site selection moving forward: All sites from the previous round (the first batch of J&J vaccine) would continue operating and extend the service to their catchment. Additionally, the public and private sites selected as identified by the Provinces will utilise a combination of proximity to clinical research sites, DATCOV admission data related to COVID-19 infections and the geographical spread.
Currently, we are modelling what has been achieved in the public sector in terms of the relevant risk stratification based on the data added onto EVDS. This stratification will consider those HCWs working as frontline staff in more vulnerable areas where the risk of infection is greater—such as ICU/High Risk/COVID Ward, Casualty/Emergency, EMS, etc.
Phase 1 (b) update: There was a good meeting with NDOH representatives on 26 February 2021 to take colleagues through workstream progress to date. We highlighted issues holding up effective private sector support to NDOH efforts and highlighted the level of involvement we have had with the private sector pharmacy clinics and the steps the pharmacy groups have made to ensure proper registration and vaccinator training. NDOH was happy with our progress to date.
Geo-mapping and the need for an expanded footprint across the country: Significant progress has been made concerning identifying the geographical gaps between hospital sites undertaking vaccination and the relevant pharmacy sites identified as premier sites (317) across the country. Extensive work has gone into ‘closing the gap’ to ensure adequate geographic and catchment coverage of pharmacy sites across the country. The next step is to ensure that this is discussed with B4SA’s Logistics workstream over the next week to ensure relevant alignment.
Training materials and the use of EVDS: We raised the urgent need for training materials for administrators, curators and vaccinators, as we move forward. The next week’s focus is to ensure that all additional HCWs are encouraged to enrol onto the EVDS. Further enhancements of the system by the NDOH will ensure the scheduling of HCWs appointments via the EVDS. As an action, we will ensure that the necessary beneficiary register is updated by district. We will share this data with NDOH to facilitate this.
Curatorship requirements for Phase 1(b) and news on Phase 2 & 3: Earlier this week, B4SA engaged the South African Pharmacy Council (SAPC) on the necessary criteria and guidelines required for compliance. The Pfizer vaccine, as an example, may be categorised as a schedule 4. On this basis, it would require relevant permit approval from the SAPC [Section 22A (15)].
With the pharmacy groups already having appointed curators for this Phase 1(b), engagement with SAPC remains ongoing, as solutions are being sought on how best to proceed. The Office of Health Standards & Compliance is also being engaged on this matter.
The workstream has completed the process of compiling a comprehensive dashboard of risks to the success of the vaccine rollout for Phase 1 and Phase 2. The risk register is reviewed and updated weekly to ensure the most critical risks remain top of mind and that the relevant parties address them with urgency where possible. To facilitate effective risk mitigation, we also completed identifying government counterparts for the major risks.
To date, we have held workshops with the following workstreams to make sure that risks have been properly identified and assessed:
- Service delivery
- Vaccine logistics and distribution
- Costing and funding
B4SA launched the inaugural meeting of the Business Communicators’ Forum (BCF) for vaccine/Covid-19 communications on 26 February 2021. The BCF, which will continue to meet every second week, is a platform for senior corporate affairs/communications executives from business, as well as business associations and bodies, and will enable B4SA to:
- Inform business directly of government and social partners’ Covid-19 vaccination campaigns and latest developments at B4SA
- Mobilise business/business associations to use their communications channels to combat COVID-19 and support the national vaccination programme
- Share research insights, national communications plans, resources and collateral for use by business
- Combat misinformation and vaccine hesitancy
- Identify and then escalate critical communications concerns to the government-led, National Communication Partnership
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OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS AND GUIDELINES ON COVID-19
All official government regulations and guidelines are available at https://www.gov.za/coronavirus/guidelines