South Africa has vaccinated some 272,438 healthcare workers against the coronavirus pandemic using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine under a campaign targeting 1.5 million medical personnel, Health Minister Zweli said on Wednesday.To fortify the long campaign that kicked off mid-February, the minister announced that his government had signed a deal to procure 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine – a second United States-made drug after the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
According to Mkhize, payment processes for the Pfizer vaccine are underway to seal the deal in the next few days.
Once the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer deals are fully concluded, the minister said the stage would be set for a significant and rapid expansion of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination programme to reach 40 million people.
“We can also confirm that the final tranche of 200,000 Johnson & Johnson doses is expected to arrive on 10 April 2021 in the country,” he said.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is administered as a single dose by intra-muscular injection to individuals 18 years and older, while the same age group can access the Pfizer’s double-dosage.
Both drugs are said to have the efficacy to fight any mutant variant that might spring up in the middle of the vaccination campaign, the minister said.
South Africa’s plan to vaccinate 40 million people is meant to reach a herd immunity among its 50-million population in order to slow down the pandemic which has killed nearly 53,000 people since March 2020 when the disease broke out in the country, health experts said.