The first delivery of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in South Africa. The vaccine, which has been approved by the South African Health Products Authority, arrived at the O.R. Tambo International Airport in Gauteng on Tuesday night.
According to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), the consignment is being moved to a secure facility in Gauteng before being distributed to the various vaccine centres in all provinces.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said last week that the country has secured nine million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, of which 80 000 doses would arrive in the first batch.
Health Minister, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, says 20 vaccination centres have been identified across nine provinces where 80 000 health care workers will be vaccinated over the next two weeks.
About 500 000 vials of vaccines will follow in the next four weeks.
South Africa had originally received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines, but the rollout was halted after a study showed this was not effective against the extremely contagious 501Y.V2 variant identified in SA.
Johnson & Johnson vaccines were subsequently ordered as they have been shown to be effective against the variant in South Africa.
South Africa in talks with Cuba on vaccine development
The SA government is still in talks with various vaccine manufacturers; and is discussing with Cuba the possibility of engaging them on the development of their candidate vaccine.
“We have heard the clarion call made by the people of South Africa to accelerate our capacity to develop and manufacture our own COVID-19 tools, including vaccines,” says Mkhize.
“It is for this reason that we have been engaging our BRICS partners and the government of Cuba to collaborate in a technology sharing exercise that will see us advancing towards independence and self-reliance in a future where there will be more public health threats.”
South Africa’s latest covid-19 stats
Meanwhile, the latest COVID-19 stats show that SA has a cumulative number of 1 494 119 COVID-19 cases, with 1 210 new cases recorded.
The cumulative total of tests conducted to date is 8 737 330 with 24 486 new tests recorded since the last report.
“Regrettably, 219 deaths have been reported: Eastern Cape 20, Free State 9, Gauteng 56, Kwa-Zulu Natal 43, Limpopo 29, Mpumalanga 10, Northern Cape 14 and Western Cape 38 which brings the total to 48 313 deaths
“We convey our condolences to the loved ones of the departed and thank the health care workers who treated the deceased patients,” Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, said.
The country’s recovery figure now stands at 1 396 951, representing a recovery rate of 93.5%.