SOUTH Africa has started COVID-19 vaccinations to those aged between 18 and 35 years old, as it tries to ramp up its immunisation drive.

The country has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, but it has so far only fully vaccinated less than 8% of its population of 60 million.

“As part of increasing the vaccination roll-out programme, Cabinet approved the vaccination of persons aged between 18 years and 35 years from 20 August,” the government said.

South Africa’s vaccination campaign started slowly due to a mix of bureaucratic failures, bad luck and onerous negotiations with pharmaceutical companies. The first vaccine doses were given to healthcare workers in a research study from mid-February before the elderly were vaccinated from mid-May.

The government has set a target of reaching at least 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations a day by the end of this month, but in the latest 24-hour period it managed just 195,000, according to a health department website. 

It aims to have given at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to 35 million of its people by December, compared to roughly 7.7 million now.

South Africa is using the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines. It has signed bilateral deals with the two U.S. pharmaceutical companies and is also receiving some Pfizer shots via the global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX.

Source - The African Mirror

TUNISIA will from August 25 require 10 days of quarantine for visitors who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a move to help keep the pandemic under control as cases have begun to fall, the health ministry said has announced.

Effective on Thursday, the North African country relaxed its nightly curfew and allowed cafes and restaurants to remain open until 10 p.m., in a partial easing of restrictions imposed to curb COVID-19 contagion.

The moves come amid a decline in the number of coronavirus infections and a clear increase in vaccination rates.

GABARONE, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Botswana needs to budget an extra 1.13 billion pula ($100 million) to help secure COVID-19 vaccines and equipment as the southern African country battles the third wave of infections, Finance Minister Peggy Serame told parliament on Tuesday.

The extra money is almost triple the sum originally allocated in February to fight the coronavirus, but 70% of this money had already been depleted by July, Serame told lawmakers.

"A sum of 1.13 billion pula is requested as additional funding under the Ministry of Health and Wellness," Serame said ahead of a debate in parliament to be held over the next couple of days to approve or reject the additional funding.

"The amount is required for the procurement of medical supplies, mainly vaccines and associated medical items such as syringes, needles and surgical masks," she said during a presentation on the 2021/22 supplementary budget.

African countries have struggled to procure enough vaccines in a global scramble for doses that has seen poorer nations relegated to the back of a supply line amid mounting fatalities from a more infectious Delta variant. read more

Botswana’s COVID-19 death toll passed the 2,000 mark on Monday, up from 630 deaths in early April. So far only 161,000 out of its 2.3 million population have been fully vaccinated, according to the latest Health Ministry data.

Botswana's supplementary budget will be financed by drawing on special funds and reallocating some money from the development budget, Serame said.

However, prospects for a projected economic rebound of 8.8% this year have faded due to the heavy impact of COVID-19 and associated restrictions on movement in the diamond-rich country, Serame said, without giving an updated growth forecast.

In June the World Bank approved a $250 million loan to support Botswana's economic recovery efforts.

($1 = 11.2360 pulas)

Reporting by Brian Benza Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

MORE than half a million Tunisians received vaccinations on Sunday as part of a national campaign to control the outbreak of COVID-19 after the country received more than 6 million vaccine doses from Western and Arab countries.

The slow pace of vaccinations and the handling of the pandemic caused a wave of protests against the government of Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi, who was dismissed by President Kais Saied two weeks ago among a series of emergency measures.

Five months after the start of vaccinations in the North African country, 1.3 million Tunisians have received two doses.

In an effort to speed up the vaccination schedule, Tunisia opened vaccinations for those over the age of 40, with thousands flocking to inoculation centers. The Health Ministry said 551,00 people received a vaccination on Sunday.

Intensive care units and emergency departments are full in hospitals across Tunisia. Doctors have complained of exhaustion and a shortage of oxygen supplies.

Tunisia seeks to vaccinate 50% of its 11.6 million people by mid-October.

The country has reported more than 20,000 deaths and more than 610,000 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began.