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Pfizer could directly deliver Covid-19 shots to SA vaccination points

Image: REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Pfizer said it could deliver its Covid-19 vaccine, which requires ultra-cold temperatures for storage and distribution, directly to points of vaccination in South Africa.

SA is scrambling to secure supplies after the AstraZeneca vaccine it planned to use to kick off its immunisation campaign showed greatly reduced efficacy against the Covid-19 virus variant now dominant in the country.

Pfizer said it had allocated vaccine doses to SA and was in discussions with the government.

“We are enabling direct shipment to the point of vaccination in a thermal shipper that will maintain the ultra-low temperature required for up to 10 days unopened,” Pfizer told Reuters in an e-mailed response to questions late on Tuesday.

Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine needs to be stored and distributed at About -70°C, requiring countries importing it to have ultra-cold chain capabilities.

That is a potential impediment for countries including some in Africa with weak public health systems.

“We have experience in distributing, storing and administering the vaccine in our phase 3 trial sites around the world (including SA) so we already know that the processes we are using work, and patients are able to be dosed at the points of vaccination,” Pfizer said.

SA says it has secured 20 million doses from Pfizer, with deliveries starting in the second quarter. It also expects to receive 117,000 Pfizer shots in the first quarter from the Covax facility co-led by the World Health Organisation.

“The supply that will be sent to SA and to Covax is manufactured at our site in Puurs, Belgium,” Pfizer said.


Minister of health Zweli Mkhize hosted a public briefing on February 10 2021 to address the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine's lack of effectiveness against the 501Y.V2 strand of Covid-19. The minister also gave a revised plan of the country's vaccine rollout.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW | SA's Covid-19 phase 1 vaccine rollout to start next week with J&J shots

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