Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the next batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive in the country this weekend, bringing the total doses in South Africa for the first phase of the deployment to 160,000.
The first batch of vaccines saw 80,000 doses delivered on February 16, with the same number of health workers due to be vaccinated two weeks after the drop. Official deployment began on February 17.
In a presentation to parliament on Tuesday (February 23), Mkhize said the country was on track to complete the first 40,000 of such vaccinations by Wednesday (February 24) – a week later.
He added that the next batch of 80,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive this Saturday, February 27, 2021.
Commenting on the government’s vaccination strategy so far, Mkhize said South Africa “never sleeps”.
“We chose a science-driven strategy because we didn’t have the financial strength to make bets without hedging. Our approach paid off because we were able to be nimble and precise on the delicate question of the variant.
The Minister of Health added that the purchase of vaccines has been a complex process that has required negotiations with multinational vaccine manufacturers in the face of vaccine nationalism and protectionism.
He said this was mainly due to the fact that richer countries had used their financial power to procure vaccines at risk and far beyond what they needed.
Mkhize said it was for this reason that the government chose to diversify its approach to vaccine procurement by engaging through various mechanisms – bilaterally through ongoing engagements with individual manufacturers; multilaterally through the COVAX facility and regionally through the African Union Vaccine Financing and Vaccine Procurement Task Team.
“We have signed non-disclosure agreements with most of the major manufacturers. This allows us to gain critical insight into their supply lines, manufacturing plans, and possible blockages in the manufacturing pipeline.
“It also allows us to continue negotiations on prices, volumes and delivery times,” said Mkhize.
“By continuing the vaccination according to the Sisonke protocol, which allowed us to use the Johnson & Johnson lots already certified by SAHPRA under research conditions, we will be one of the few countries to undertake a well-designed impact evaluation during vaccine deployment. to our healthcare workers. “
Citing data from the Human Science Research Council, Mkhize said 67% of citizens would definitely take the vaccine or likely take the vaccine and only 12% said they would not take the vaccine.
“This evidence assured us that the high level of vaccine reluctance that was believed to threaten our ability to deploy vaccines was in fact not true,” Mkhize said. “To date, there have been almost 500,000 registrations on the EVDS system.”
Mkhize has also confirmed that South Africa will sell its Astra Zeneca Covid-19 share to the African Union at cost.
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