SA to get 9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine shots — health ministry

19 January 2021 - 07:48
By Reuters
SA will be getting 9 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry says.
Image: Dado Ruvic/Reuters SA will be getting 9 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry says.

SA, which has yet to receive its first coronavirus vaccine doses, will be getting 9 million from Johnson & Johnson, the health ministry said on Monday.

The government of Africa's most advanced economy is trying to secure enough Covid-19 vaccines after health workers and scientists criticised it for not moving fast enough to inoculate its people.

The country has recorded more than 1.3 million infections and more than 37,000 deaths related to the virus, the most in Africa.

Health ministry spokesperson Lwazi Manzi did not specify when the J&J doses might be available. She was confirming a report in the Business Day newspaper.

The J&J doses take the total number of doses that SA stands to receive to more than 30 million.

J&J did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment. The US health-care company's chief scientific officer said last week it was on track to roll out its single-shot coronavirus vaccine in March, and expects to have clear data on how effective it is by the end of this month or early February.

SA should also receive about 12 million doses from the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organisation, about 12 million from an AU arrangement, and 1.5 million from the Serum Institute of India which is making AstraZeneca shots.

The calculation for the AU allocation is based on SA's share of the continent's population.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, the AU chair, said last week that the organisation had secured 270 million vaccine doses and that they would be distributed based on countries' population size.

SA's health ministry said this month it was in advanced negotiations with J&J.

Local pharmaceutical company Aspen will be manufacturing J&J shots but unless a firm agreement is signed with the SA government all those doses will be exported.

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