TO deal with the increasing spread of Covid-19, the country will need to immunise between 67% and 79% of the population.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize told Parliament’s portfolio committee on health yesterday that government will aim to vaccinate 40 million people as soon as the right vaccine is identified and approved.

Mkhize said the vaccine had already been secured and the first consignment was expected to arrive in the country by April.

The first people to be prioritised would be health workers.

He said the department had been working closely with other nations in identifying the preferred vaccine, and that a lot of research was being done to look into the variant of the virus and its impact.

“There’s no clear evidence what the impact will be of the vaccine,” he said.

“All of that is under way and is being dealt with at the level of the researchers.”

He emphasised that the only way to deal with the virus would be through the vaccine, saying it was possible every single person would be immunised.

But according to the department’s calculations, between 67% and 79% of the population would be enough to break the spread of the deadly virus.

These calculations were made by scientists based on how many people could be infected by one person.

Mkhize said there were delays in purchasing a vaccine. Part of the delays were that the finance department advised the department to raise funds to avoid tapping into the budget that had already been allocated.

He said the acquisition was done directly by the Department of Health and this strengthened the credibility of the process as all the negotiations and payment issues were managed directly by government with the manufacturer.