More than 325 000 Pfizer vaccines have landed in South Africa.
The arrival of the doses, 325 260 to be exact, will boost the country’s vaccine roll-out which has already seen 318 670 healthcare workers being inoculated against the COVID-19 virus.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) has considered all the security arrangements- from when the vaccine lands at the Oliver Tambo International Airport or ORTIA, to when it is transported to the vaccination sites.
“We have engaged all security agencies to ensure all necessary security procedures are in place for safe delivery of the vaccines and made the necessary arrangements with the police,” Mkhize said.
He said upon arrival the entire batch was transported initially to a central warehouse.
“Samples will be sent to the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance and, after release, will be distributed to the provinces,” he said.
Mkhize said following this initial delivery of Pfizer, his department is expecting approximately the same number of doses to arrive on a weekly basis to a total of over 1,3 million doses by the end of May.
“Thereafter the vaccine supply will increase to an average of 636 480 doses weekly from 31 May which will see us accumulating close to 4,5m doses by the end of June,” he said.
In regards to Johnson and Johnson, Mkhize said the government has received communication that the doses awaiting dispatch in Gqeberha are expected to be released around the middle of May.
This, Mkhize said, is due to a protracted safety verification process with international regulatory agencies Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) and South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
Minister Mkhize said this is a precautionary measure following the adverse findings during inspection of Emergent BioSolutions Bayview facility in the United States of America, one of the manufacturing partners of Johnson and Johnson, which prompted the authorities to extend their assessments of all Johnson and Johnson stock worldwide.
These assessments are still underway.
Johnson & Johnson vaccine release date
“We are confident that the final outcome will be positive and that, provided there are no further disruptions, Johnson and Johnson will be in a position to release the stock from the Aspen plant in Gqeberha by the middle of May. The stock is currently finished and ready for dispatch.
In the meantime, we will continue to vaccinate our health care workers with the remaining early access doses of Johnson and Johnson – through the Sisonke Protocol and we will proceed to vaccinate with Pfizer. We therefore continue to call on all healthcare workers, including traditional healers, and all citizens 60 years and above to register on the EVDS as we continue to roll out vaccines,” Mkhize said.
According to the latest report from the Department of Health, SA has a cumulative of 1 584 064 cases with 21 869 active cases and 54 417 deaths.
KwaZulu-Natal has 5 331 active cases, followed by Northern Cape with 3 835 and the Free State with 3 514.