By Fortune Eromosele
The Minister of Health, South Africa, has disclosed that the country will receive its first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine on Monday.
The Health Minister, Dr. Zweli Mkhize made the announcement during a live briefing on the country’s vaccines rollout strategy on Wednesday evening.
According to him, “One million vaccine doses are scheduled to leave India on Sunday, 31 January and is scheduled to arrive on Monday, 01 February 2020.”
He said the Nation is expected to receive the first batch of 1 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, a product referred to as “COVIDSHIELD” produced by the Serum Institute of India.
Mkhize said after their arrival, the vaccine doses would be subject to technical processes including quality assurance over a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 14 days. After that, the doses can be distributed to all provinces, he added.
“It’s a massive achievement to get our first batch of vaccines less than a year after the outbreak of the pandemic in South Africa,” Mkhize stressed.
He maintained that the country plans to vaccinate 67% of the population, roughly 40 million people in order to achieve population immunity.
The Minister said that the batch of vaccine doses would be given to healthcare workers, adding that another 500,000 doses would arrive in mid-February.
Mkhize said the Treasury had put its full weight behind securing the vaccine, stating that it had “ensured no undue delays, had granted all procurement deviations that the health ministry had requested and had committed to financing additional orders”.
He added that, from a regulatory standpoint, “we are cleared to move ahead with the rollout of the vaccine and the mass inoculation campaign. The vaccine has been approved by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority for emergency use in the country South Africa’s National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) welcomed the imminent arrival of the vaccine.”