South Africa has secured a further 21 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announcing on Thursday that one million of this batch of drugs is expected to arrive in the country this month.Mkhize, whose office is running a vaccination programme targeting 41 million people to achieve herd immunity in a country of 50 million people, said Pretoria would receive a further 900,000 vaccines in May and June of this United States-developed drug.
“The numbers (of vaccine deliveries) will start increasing from July onwards,” the minister said.
In addition to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Mkhize said the country was also expecting 5.5 million doses of another US-made Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from April to June this year.
The minister said the government’s plan was to vaccinate 1.5 million health care workers in the three months starting on 17 February but the suspension of the use of the India-made one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in February had delayed this.
The vaccine, which South Africa procured on 1 February, was found to have limited efficacy against mild and moderate diseases caused by the Covid-19 variant dominant in the country.
The one million AstraZeneca drugs have since been sold to the African Union for onward distribution to 14 other African states, the minister said.
Despite this temporary setback “everything is still on course,” Mkhize added.