The million AstraZeneca doses procured by SA three weeks ago, which were later found to have limited efficacy against mild and moderate disease caused by the Covid-19 variant dominant in the country, have been sold to the African Union (AU).
The announcement was made by health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize in the National Assembly on Tuesday, where the Covid-19 rollout strategy was debated on an urgent basis after an application by the DA.
“In regards to the sale of the AstraZeneca stock to the AU, I can confirm that we are selling the doses [not donating]. Therefore there is no wasteful or fruitless expenditure,” said Mkhize.
“We have learnt from the AU that these will be distributed to about 20 countries in the continent, who will be in a position to begin protecting their front-line health-care workers. This is a win-win situation.
“We have further proposed that Johnson & Johnson (J&J) be preferentially deployed to the southern regions of Africa so that we can rapidly deal with the variant that is predominating in SA and some parts of SADC.
“Having said that, we join the WHO and scientific community in supporting the rollout of AstraZeneca, even in regions affected by variants.”