First batch of Pfizer vaccines lands in South Africa on Sunday evening: Mkhize

Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that the first batch of South Africa’s Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines is anticipated to arrive in Johannesburg shortly before midnight on Sunday evening (2 May).

In a statement published on social media, Dr Mkhize said that the vaccines will first be sent to the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance, after which they will be distributed to the various provinces.

He added that the vaccines will receive security protection from their arrival until they are transported to vaccination sites countrywide.

The first shipment of Pfizer vaccines totals more than 325,000, with the government expecting similar-sized shipments weekly until the end of May. A total of 1.3 million Pfizer vaccines are expected to be delivered.

Mkhize said that vaccines from Johnson & Johnson will also be released from Gqeberha by mid-May once they are validated for safety reasons.

The single-dose J&J shots were given to nearly 300,000 health workers as part of a drug trial that enabled normal regulatory procedures to be bypassed prior to their use being paused. The vaccine has since been approved for general usage.

South Africa has reported 1 506 732 cases of Covid-19, with total deaths at 54,406 to date.

The health minister has reported in excess of 3,200 new cases over the weekend – Friday and Saturday.

Russian and Chinese vaccines

South Africa also plans to buy Russia’s Sputnik V vaccines and shots developed by China’s Sinopharm Group as it steps up efforts to tackle the coronavirus.

The government will order 10 million doses of each shot, Dr Mkhize told lawmakers in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“We are doing this now because we do expect the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to approve those vaccines,” he said.

Plans are in place to inoculate 16.5 million people from May to October with the aid of private healthcare providers, which will buy shots from the national government, he said.

Read: 9 areas where South Africa is falling behind the rest of the world

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First batch of Pfizer vaccines lands in South Africa on Sunday evening: Mkhize