South Africa finally got good news regarding the introduction of vaccination: the first batch of 325,260 Pfizer vaccines arrived in the country overnight.
A similar amount of weekly vaccine doses is expected to arrive by the end of May, with a total of 1.3 million doses by the end of the month. Thereafter, the supply is expected to increase significantly to over 636,000 per week in June.
The launch of Pfizer vaccines follows the restart of Phase 1 of the country’s rollout, which focuses on vaccination of healthcare workers as part of the Sisonke Implementation Study. The rollout resumed on Wednesday (April 28).
Since then, 26,000 health care workers have been vaccinated, with the health department aiming for 500,000 vaccinations by the end of the study.
South Africa has also secured other vaccines, most of which are expected to arrive in the second half of the year.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in parliament on Wednesday that South Africa wanted to source additional vaccines from Russia and India. However, the exact details of these deals have not yet been released.
It is planned to vaccinate 16.5 million people from May to October with the help of private health care providers who will buy shots from the national government. This is part of phase 2 of the rollout, which is aimed at vulnerable people and key employees.
The third phase of the rollout, which will give the rest of the country an opportunity, is expected to begin in November.
According to the Bureau for Economic Research (BER), the first commercial batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the Aspen plant in Gqeberha is expected by mid-May.
One area that could potentially hinder the introduction of vaccines in the country is the lengthy international safety review process for the Johnson & Johnson vaccines currently stored in Gqeberha.
Mkhize said these vaccines are expected to be released in mid-May, but said they would only be released after approval by US and South African regulators
“This is a precautionary measure after the adverse findings upon inspection of Emergent BioSolutions Bayview facility in the United States of America, one of Johnson and Johnson’s manufacturing partners who led authorities to expand their valuations of all Johnson and Johnson holdings worldwide. These evaluations are still ongoing, ”he said.
“We are confident that the end result will be positive and that unless further disruptions occur, Johnson and Johnson will be able to clear inventory from the Aspen Gqeberha facility by mid-May. The stock is currently ready and ready to be shipped. “
Read: 9 Areas Where South Africa Lags Behind the Rest of the World