Feb, 17th 2021 – South Africa plans to share the one million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses it received from the Serum Institute of India with other African countries via the African Union. South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the AU will distribute to those countries that have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock.
The country paused the rollout of AstraZeneca doses this month after preliminary trial data showed they offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the country’s dominant coronavirus variant.
As a result, South Africa turned to Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine which was received on Tuesday, and vaccinations to commence on Wednesday according to the South African Medical Association (SAMA).
Mkhize also rubbished rumors that the shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine had expired and were being returned to India. He added that the government will not go back on the commitment it had to roll out the vaccine. He said, “The recent announcement around the limited efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which we had already procured, was certainly disappointing; however we were determined not to be derailed from our commitment to roll out vaccines in February.”
South African Medical Association chairwoman Angelique Coetzee said vaccinations would happen at hospitals in each of the country’s nine provinces. Roughly two-thirds of the doses would go to public-sector health workers and one-third to those in the private sector.
The health minister announced that the country has secured nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. However, 80, 000 shots are expected as a start-up as 500,000 doses will be delivered in the coming weeks.
Mkhize added that the doses will be supplemented by an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine which is expected late March.
Initially, South Africa had planned to vaccinate a total population of 40 million people and there has been questions on whether the target still stands. Mkhize has however assured that enough doses have been secured to vaccinate all the people who will need it in South Africa.
Officials are set to administer shots to healthcare workers at 20 vaccination centers in each of the country’s nine provinces.