70% of South Africa have come into contact with Covid – and have some form of immunity: Minister of Health

Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla says that while 70% of the population has come into contact with Covid-19 – and have some form of immunity – the best form of defense against the disease remains vaccination.

Phaahla said this when he tabled the vote on the department’s budget on Tuesday before a National Assembly mini-plenary session.

“Even though it is the time when over 70% of the population has had contact with the virus, and therefore we have some natural immunity, the truth is that this immunity increases with time and cannot be enhanced. So while the virus is among us, the best defense is vaccination, “she said.

Phaahla said where the government was compared from a year ago, it has made progress with its vaccination schedule.

As of Monday, we have administered 35,182 million doses of the vaccine to just over 19,717 million adult individuals, or 49.5% of all adults.

“We have been allocated Rand 2 billion for vaccines in the financial year 2022/23,” he said.

The minister explains the need for health regulations

Phaahla said, meanwhile, that the government does not take joy in implementing blockade restrictions and that they are done solely to protect citizens from the severe impact of COVID-19.

“We want to assure all South Africans that, as a government, we take no joy in disturbing you from time to time with restrictions.

“We apologize for the fact that we have offended you, but we assure you that all interventions were designed and are still designed for all of us to avoid the serious impact of COVID-19.

“We completely disagree with armchair critics who argue that we should abandon all public health measures and let the virus spread at will and only worry about whether the hospitals are full or not,” he said.

The minister said that while the pandemic derailed some of the government’s programs – as departments had to redirect all resources to help in the fight against the pandemic – he also had positive experiences and lessons during this time.

“We have learned to work as a local to national government and to bring skills and competences from our entities.

“We learned how to partner with the private sector, from securing commodities such as [personal protective equipment] PPE, diagnostic, therapeutic and even more safety and administration of vaccines.

“We have learned to work with our scientists to guide our intervention, which is not always easy because scientists themselves don’t always agree as is the case with other aspects of life,” he said.

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