this article was originally published at: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/south-africa-covid-19-vaccine-train-transvaco-2021-8

 

Inside Transnet’s Transvaco Covid-19 vaccine train (Image supplied by Transnet)

  • Transnet has launched a new health train focused on bringing Covid-19 vaccines to remote communities and those with limited medical resources.
  • The Transvaco train is modelled on the Phelophepa, which has been offering rail-based healthcare services across South Africa for almost 30 years.
  • The new train is equipped with ultra-cold fridges to handle temperature sensitive vaccines and can hold up to 108,000 vials.
  • Its first stop is in Springs, Gauteng, before moving on to the Eastern Cape in early September.

South Africa’s rail, port, and pipeline company, Transnet, has deployed a new health train which aims to bring Covid-19 vaccines to communities in remote parts of the country.

Transnet is no stranger to rail-based healthcare services. The Phelophepa health train has been visiting communities since 1994, with eye, dental, health, and psychology clinics onboard to diagnose illnesses, treat minor ailments, and administer medication.

Transnet’s Transvaco Covid-19 vaccine train (Image supplied by Transnet)

The Transvaco train was officially launched on Wednesday and is modelled on the Phelophepa. This train has been equipped with ultra-low temperature fridges which can hold up to 108,000 vials of various Covid-19 vaccines. Transvaco’s role is purely to administer Covid-19 vaccines to communities which have limited healthcare resources.

The train has nine coaches, featuring a kitchen, dining area, storage facilities, security coach, and power car. Two accommodation coaches house healthcare personnel and other train staff, while the dedicated vaccination coach features individual consulting rooms.

Inside Transnet’s Transvaco Covid-19 vaccine train (Image supplied by Transnet)

“The Transnet train, Transvaco, is an innovation to take the vaccination to people in transport nodes and it will encourage a lot of people to vaccinate,” Gauteng Premier David Makhura told the media on Thursday.

The train will be at Springs station in Ekurhuleni, Gauteng, until 2 September and will then head to the Eastern Cape.

Vaccine fridges inside Transnet’s Transvaco Covid-19 vaccine train (Image supplied by Transnet)

Transvaco’s deployment coincides with the next phase of South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout, with doses being made available to anybody aged 18 and above from Friday. This age group was initially due to be included in the rollout in September, but a drop-off in demand from older cohorts has seen South Africa scrambling to increase its output to achieve its target of 300,000 daily vaccinations.

Storage units inside Transnet’s Transvaco Covid-19 vaccine train (Image supplied by Transnet)

The daily vaccination rate peaked in the third week of July, when an average of more than 250,000 doses were administered from Monday to Friday. Since then, the daily rate has dropped considerably to less than 200,000 doses per day.

A total of 9,962,111 vaccine doses had been administer by Thursday, with around 7.5% of the population fully vaccinated against Covid-19.