Phase-two Covid-19 vaccine rollout to start mid-May, says Mkhize


This is after South Africa secured 31 million of J&J’s single-shot vaccine doses and 20 million from Pfizer-BioNTech’s double-shot dose.

On Thursday, Mkhize, along with Gauteng Premier David Makhura, visited various vaccination sites in the province to check their state of readiness for phase two of the vaccination programme.

This is after South Africa secured 31 million of Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine doses  and 20 million from Pfizer-BioNTech’s double-shot dose with a combined total of 51 million vaccines.

Addressing the media at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Parktown, Mkhize said the mass vaccination rollout programme was due to begin on 17 May.

“This means we can now move ahead with confidence as we finalizs the plans for our mass rollout campaign, which is officially due to begin at the conclusion of phase one on 17 May 2021,” he said.

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The minister noted there would a delay in the delivery of 200,000 J&J doses due to arrive on Saturday because of the unavailability of direct flights.

“We now expect this final batch to arrive early next week. This will not derail us from meeting our targets,” he said.

He further confirmed the country would receive more than 1 million vaccines later in April.

“We are pleased to announce that Johnson & Johnson has confirmed we will receive 1,099,200 doses this month. The exact date of delivery is awaiting the quality assurance processes, of which documentation was submitted to the authorities yesterday on 7 April 2021.

“This was done to ensure the process can be fast-tracked without compromising the quality of the product.

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

The doses will be delivered from the pharmaceutical giant Aspen plant in Gqeberha, (formerly Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape, Mkhize said.

“The advantage of this is a shortened period between dispatch from the plant and delivery to vaccination centres.”

READ MORE: SA’s newly detected Covid-19 variants aren’t major cause for concern

He said Pfizer had indicated that South Africa expect delivery 14 days after confirmation of receipt of funds.

“Coming to Pfizer, as we announced in the statement of 6 April 2021, payment processes are under way and upon conclusion Pfizer will be in a position to break down its quarterly commitments to a finer schedule, with a committed date for the delivery of the first batch.

“We expect to receive the supply schedule early next week, provided there are no unforeseen glitches in the payment process. Pfizer has indicated we can expect delivery 14 days after confirmation of receipt of funds.

ALSO READ: Here are the 18 sites where SA’s first vaccinations will take place

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) approved a Section 21 application for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine last month.

So far the first doses of vaccine have been administered to more than 280,000 healthcare workers, which constitutes less than 1% of the population.

At least 72,666 people a day were targeted to be vaccinated between 17 May and 31 July to total the projected 5,449,980 vaccine jabs given to those over 60 years of age during the first part of the second phase, technical adviser to the health department Dr Aquina Thulare told the health portfolio committee this week.

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