Cape Town | Yesterday the Sisonke study reached 251 707 health workers marking its halfway point as it continues to move forward towards its target of vaccinating half a million of the country’s health workers. This unique effort, spearheaded by the South African Medical Research Council in partnership with the National Department of Health, Desmond Tutu Health Foundation, CAPRISA, Janssen and Johnson & Johnson, has used research to bridge the delay posed by the need to reconsider first-line vaccine choice in the context of the 501Y.V2 variant dominant in South Africa. It has provided government with the opportunity to commence Phase 1 vaccination of the country’s health workers under study conditions to protect them ahead of the third wave, and in turn to protect the health system so that it is in robust position to respond to the surge expected in the coming months. We welcome the news by President Ramaphosa last night on the securing of an additional 31 million doses of the JnJ vaccine in addition to the 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and the plans to complete health worker vaccination in the coming weeks and commence with extension of vaccination to the people of South Africa most vulnerable to severe COVID-19 from mid-May.  

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