31 January 2021
As promised by South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on 31 January 2021.
Andrea Kühn, South Africa’s Consul-General in Mumbai together with members of the Consulate attended the send-off and they extended South Africa's deep appreciation and gratitude to the exceptional and professional support rendered by the government of India, the SII, Mumbai International Airport Cargo, Expo Freight Private Limited (EFL) and Emirates Airline.
Consul-General Andrea Kühn said, “This is a historical event and in the spirit of solidarity and enduring friendship, this consolidated the deep friendship and strategic partnership between South Africa and India”.
The event was also attended by Mr Sudeep Narayan, Director India-Airfreight, EFL, Mr Subhash P Dixit, Senior Manager, EFL, Mr S D Prabhu Cargo Manager Maharashtra & Goa, Emirates and Mr Patrick Mascarenhas, CSM, Asia Pacific and South East Asia, Emirates.
On the continent, South Africa has recorded the most number of Covid-19 infections, and as this number continues to rise, many are looking to the vaccine for much needed relief. As at 30 January 2021 South Africa has recorded over 1.4million infections with a total of 43,951 deaths.
People in many parts of the world have already started receiving vaccines, while the efficacy of the doses, especially against the new variants being discovered, are yet to be determined.
India has been at the forefront of the development of the vaccine as well as in the inoculation of its population. In a very generous gesture and taking into account its ’Neighbourhood First’ policy, it has shipped vaccines to all its neighbours as well as countries like Brazil and Mauritius, and now to South Africa.
As South Africa awaits the vaccine, plans are in place for its rollout and in a presentation to the South African parliament Mkhize said that the aim of vaccination is to prevent morbidity and mortality, and achieve herd immunity and prevent ongoing transmission.
Because none of us are safe until all of us are safe, India’s solidarity, especially with South Africa is testament to the unbreakable bonds between the two nations.