- Minister Mkhize says that the deal to obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine was sealed before the new Covid-19 variant was detected in SA
- This comes as a great deal of confusion surrounds the decision to halt the rollout of the medication
- Meanwhile, Mkhize announced that healthcare workers will be vaccinated with doses of the Johnson and Johnson's vaccine
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that the deal to purchase the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute in India was struck before the new Covid-19 variant was discovered in South Africa.
This comes shortly after Mkhize announced that the rollout of the vaccine would be halted, a disappointing announcement to the 1.2 million healthcare workers waiting to receive protection from the virus.
The decision came hot on the heels of a clinical trial that showed doses were ineffective in around 2 000 patients infected with the new strain of the coronavirus.
This had prompted outrage with numerous opposition parties accusing the ANC government of botching the vaccine programme before it had the chance to kick-off.
However, Mkhize has now announced that healthcare workers will be vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson's vaccine.
This will form part of an 'implementation study' in partnership with the Medical Research Council'.
This means that the South African government will not be expected to pay for the first batch of the vaccine.
The Health Minister says that his department will move ahead with the first phase of its vaccination plan using Johnson and Johnson's vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
As for the timeline of the vaccines, Mkhize tentatively says that the first batch will take some time:
“We do anticipate that they will have their first batch probably and I’m not their spokesperson, but just for purposes of the public is to say the impression I have is to say they will have their first batch manufactured around March. Now there is a period of about a month that they have got to hold any stock that is fully manufactured.”
Earlier, Briefly.co.za reported that the World Health Organization has issued a warning that nations shouldn't be in a hurry to dismiss the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
This comes after research showed the vaccine is less effective against the variant discovered locally.
The organisation insisted that AstraZeneca remains a crucial, life-saving tool against the pandemic.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!