51 million Covid-19 vaccines coming soon: here is what you need to know about the rollout

SA has secured 51 million doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer BioNTech in the battle against Covid-19.

This is according to health minister Zweli Mkhize, who updated the country on Thursday about the latest vaccine rollout.

He said the country was still on track with its vaccination strategy and the second phase will start on May 17.

Here is what you need to know:

51 million vaccines coming soon

Mkhize said SA would receive 31 million single-shot vaccines from J&J, while 20 million double-shot vaccines will come from Pfizer.

The first vaccine doses are expected to land in SA between April 22 and 24.

“The country will receive an initial batch of more than one million J&J vaccines before the end of April. This will be followed by 900,000 in May and another 900,000 in June. The country has secured 31 million doses of the one-dose vaccine,” said Mkhize.

“As such we expect that Johnson & Johnson will be in a position to deliver the batch around April 22-24 and the month will not end before we roll out these market doses to the remaining health-care workers and the first of our most vulnerable citizens.”

Payment for Pfizer vaccine deal to be concluded 

Mkhize said the country was still concluding payment for the Pfizer vaccine deal.

“Upon conclusion, Pfizer will be in a position to break down their current quarterly commitments to a finer schedule, with a committed date for the delivery of the first batch,” he said.

“We, therefore, expect to receive the supply schedule early next week. This will be the detail of how the vaccine will come and not yet the vaccine. We expect within 14 days, we should be able to get the [first] delivery, provided there are no unforeseen glitches in the payment process.”

Second phase to happen over six months

He said the second phase of the vaccination programme would happen over a period of six months.

“May 17 marks the end of phase one and therefore we will be starting phase two going on to October 17.

“The second phase should take us six months and we are still sticking to that,” said Mkhize.

The minister said the third phase would begin after October.

He said the government was still working hard to procure more jabs to ensure those who may be unaccounted for or undocumented are also immunised to reach herd immunity.

AstraZeneca vaccines refund

All of the AstraZeneca vaccines have been salvaged and the Serum Institute of India has fully refunded SA for the remaining 500,000 doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, said Mkhize.

The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout was halted in February after it was found to not be particularly effective against mild to moderate disease caused by the dominant Covid-19 variant, 501Y.V2 or B. 1.351.

“Treasury has confirmed that the Serum Institute of India has fully refunded us for the remaining 500,000 doses that had not been delivered to SA and the money is already in our bank account,” he said.

“I want to clarify this quite clearly, as this now closes the matter of the AstraZeneca vaccine and also we close it without incurring any fruitless and wasteful expenditure.”

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