SA to get nine million J&J vaccine shots - minister

18 January 2021 - 17:11
By Reuters
Health minister Zweli Mkhize
Image: Sandile Ndlovu Health minister Zweli Mkhize

SA, which has yet to receive its first coronavirus vaccine doses, will be getting nine million from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry said on Monday.

The government of Africa's most advanced economy is trying to secure enough COVID-19 vaccines after health workers and scientists criticised it for not moving fast enough to inoculate its people.

The country has recorded more than 1.3 million infections and more than 37,000 deaths related to the virus, the most in Africa.

Health ministry spokeswoman Lwazi Manzi did not specify when the J&J doses might be available. She was confirming a report in the Business Day newspaper.

The J&J doses take the total number of doses that South Africa stands to receive to more than 30 million.

J&J did not respond to an email seeking comment. The U.S. healthcare company's chief scientific officer said last week it was on track to roll out its single-shot coronavirus vaccine in March, and expects to have clear data on how effective it is by the end of this month or early February.

South Africa should also receive about 12 million doses from the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, about 12 million from an African Union (AU) arrangement, and 1.5 million from the Serum Institute of India which is making AstraZeneca shots.

The calculation for the AU allocation is based on South Africa's share of the continent's population.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the AU chair, said last week that the organisation had secured 270 million vaccine doses and that they would be distributed based on countries' population size.

South Africa's health ministry said this month it was in advanced negotiations with J&J.

Local pharmaceutical company Aspen will be manufacturing J&J shots but unless a firm agreement is signed with the South African government all those doses will be exported.

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