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DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 06: Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize visits Clairwood Hospital ahead of the expected peak in the Province on August 06, 2020 in Durban, South Africa.

South Africa Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Plan

The South African Department of Health has announced that it aims to vaccinate over a third of the population against COVID-19.

South African Health Minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, has announced that the country aims to secure COVID-19 vaccines by end of February 2021. This follows after a newly discovered COVID-19 strain caused an unprecedented rise in infections in December of last year. According to EWN, Mkhize revealed that government is in the middle of negotiations with international pharmaceutical companies. Mkhize described the vaccine rollout strategy will target four group populations that the health ministry has determined a priority, this according to Business Insider SA.

Read: 43 World Health Organisation Experts to Land in South Africa as Coronavirus Infection Rates Peak

Healthcare workers will reportedly be the first group to receive the vaccine, followed by high risk groups specifically those who are HIV-positive or people over the age of 60. People that are in confined areas with large congregations such as prisons and hospice. Additionally, tourism sector employees and educational workers will be prioritised. The last group are those that qualify as essential workers including the police, miners, banking sector personnel and essential municipal employees.

In a TimesLIVE report, Mkhize stated that in a midst of a global rush for a COVID-19 vaccine, cost, access, ease of use and storage, are admittedly determining factors. This has reportedly resulted in bilateral negotiations with potential vaccines suppliers including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Cipla. Mkhize revealed that some countries had allegedly stocked vaccines for over five times the requirement for their population. The actions of these first-world countries mean that South Africa will then struggle to obtain COVID-19 vaccines within the nation's desired time frame. The health minister did not hold back in calling out the "well off" countries.

According to EWN, the health ministry has entered into the COVAX vaccine distribution in an initiative led by the World Health Organisation but this will only cover 10 percent of the South African population. Mkhize stated that there are talks underway with political partners from BRICS, specifically Russia and China. Mkhize also reportedly stated that the aim is to vaccinate 67 percent of South Africa's population by the end of the year.

South Africa currently sits on over one million COVID-19 cases and 29 000 deaths. The country went back to a level-three lock down mid-December following a rise in infection.


A Candid Conversation With Olamide & Fireboy DML

We talk to the Nigerian stars about the hardest lessons they've learned, best advice they've ever been given and what Nigeria means to them.

Olamide and Fireboy DML have been working together for three years, but the first time they sit down to do an interview together is hours after they arrive in New York City on a promo tour.

It's Fireboy's first time in the Big Apple — and in the US — and the rain that's pouring outside his hotel doesn't hinder his gratitude. "It's such a relief to be here, it's long overdue," he tells OkayAfrica. "I was supposed to be here last year, but Covid stopped that. This is a time to reflect and refresh. It's a reset button for me."

Olamide looks on, smiling assuredly. Since signing Fireboy to his YBNL Nation label in 2018, he's watched the soulful young singer rise to become one of Nigeria's most talked-about artists — from his breakout single, "Jealous," to his debut album Laughter, Tears & Goosebumps, hit collabs with D.Smoke and Cuppy, and his sophomore release, Apollo, last year.

Even while he shares his own latest record, UY Scuti, with the world, Olamide nurtures Fireboy's career with as much care and attention as he does his own, oscillating between his two roles of artist and label exec seamlessly. His 2020 album Carpe Diem is the most streamed album ever by an African rap artist, according to Audiomack, hitting over 140 million streams. When Olamide signed a joint venture with US-based record label and distribution company, Empire, in February last year he did so through his label, bringing Fireboy and any other artist he decides to sign along for the ride, and establishing one of the most noteworthy deals on the continent.

Below, Olamide & Fireboy DML speak to OkayAfrica about their mutual admiration for each other, what makes them get up in the morning and how they switch off.

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