Millions of Pfizer vaccines are on the way, says Zweli Mkhize
The government has received formal acceptance and confirmation from Pfizer to increase the country’s vaccine doses from 20 million to 30 million, health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday.
“This therefore means that we can now guarantee that the number of people that will be vaccinated with Pfizer increases from 10 million to 15 million,” said Mkhize, who appeared before parliaments’ portfolio committee on health.
Mkhize updated the nation on the Johnson & Johnson clinical trial and answered questions on vaccines, procurement and progress on the rollout programme. Mkhize said on Tuesday that SA would temporarily suspend the J&J vaccination rollout while scientists investigate possible links between it and a rare type of blood clot in the brain.
Mkhize said the Department of Health has procured a total of 31 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. An agreement was signed and the initial purchase price has been paid, he added.
“This agreement included an option for the department to call for 20 [more] million vaccines after the signing of the initial agreement. This option was immediately exercised to ensure that we secure enough vaccines, hence we are now procuring a total of 31 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson.”
However, there are certain conditions imposed by J&J and Pfizer that need to be met by SA. One of them is the establishment of a fund to protect both the manufacturers and the rights of citizens during the vaccination programme.
“In relation to the second agreement, J&J had put in a precondition that no fault compensation regulations must be published by April 30. I must state that this condition has been made by Pfizer. We are pleased that yesterday [Tuesday] the NCCC accepted the recommendations for the draft regulations to be published for public comments to the no fault compensation fund,” said Mkhize.
The cost of the vaccine from Pfizer and J&J is $10 per dose while the cost of the AstraZeneca vaccine was $5.35 per dose, he said.
SA is expected to receive another batch of the J&J vaccine next week while Pfizer is expected to deliver 1,937,520 doses at the end of May.
“The total doses to be received in June is 2,547,090. I must emphasise that this delivery schedule is just based on the 20 million already paid for. The further 10 million doses committed this week will mean that the doses to be supplied will increase,” explained Mkhize.
“l am very pleased that Pfizer has committed to supply these doses in quarter two and quarter three. This is based on our plea to them to increase the doses in these quarters so that we can get as many South Africans vaccinated quickly, even before we experience a third wave as a country.
“Pfizer has in response committed to giving us an additional two million in Q2 and the balance of eight million in Q3. This will mean that in Q2 we will now have a total of 6.5 million Pfizer vaccines and in Q3 we will have a total of 16.5 million vaccines. Then in Q4 we will receive the balance of 6.9 million vaccines.
“J&J has also now formally confirmed that we will receive 1.1 million doses in the last week of April. I must also mention that in light of yesterday's announcement by the FDA and our subsequent announcement as a country to halt the J&J rollout, it now calls for government to engage and make a determination jointly with J&J on the planned delivery schedule.
“Once we have a clear decision in this regard we will advise this committee and the public at large. As we announced yesterday, this decision was taken as a precaution rather than an intention to completely withdraw the rollout.”
Mkhize said the government remained confident that of almost 300,000 people vaccinated with the J&J vaccine in SA there had not been any reports of adverse events caused by it, including clots.