South Africa to miss Covid-19 vaccination targets

South Africa expects to miss its target of inoculating 1.5 million people by the end of this month because sufficient shots aren’t available, Bloomberg reports.

“We expect now only to complete 700,000 vaccines by end of March,” Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla said in an online briefing on Friday.

“We are expecting more Johnson & Johnson vaccines and some from Pfizer, but we will still be behind target. However, we hope to be back on track once production of the various vaccines ramps up.”

On Thursday, Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said South Africa is expecting an extra 500,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines between now and the end of March.

About three million doses will arrive between April and June, while the remaining jabs will follow in the next two quarters of the year.

According to the minister, the country is also anticipating about 600,000 Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines to land in South Africa before the end of March.

“Between five and seven million are expected to arrive in April to June and after that, we should get more,” he said.

“Again, with Pfizer, we still need to sign the first agreement and confirm the second agreement,” he said, adding that the country has 20 million doses from the pharmaceutical company.

In addition, he announced that the Covax facility will also be shipping about 600,000 to the country.

Meanwhile, government is still finalising discussions with Russia’s Sputnik V, which is currently undergoing the process of registration locally, and China’s Sinopharm.

Mkhize said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has demonstrated to have the most effective action against the 501Y.V2 variant.

“The others such as Pfizer and Moderna have also demonstrated some degree of activity. However, that was demonstrated in a lab setting and not a clinical trial, so in the process are some of the considerations that we take into account as we go through the selection of vaccines.”

He has assured South Africans that the two vaccines – Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer – are the best to deal with 501Y.V2.

Read: Government starts processing new Covid-19 TERS claims in South Africa

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South Africa to miss Covid-19 vaccination targets