President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed that South Africa will receive two million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson (J&J) by the end of the month, as the country battles the third wave of COVID-19 infections.
“We have received an indication from Johnson & Johnson that it expects to deliver around two million vaccines to South Africa by the end of the month.
“The initial doses we receive from Johnson & Johnson will be used to vaccinate educators in our schools and thereafter, security personnel on the frontline.
In a televised address to the nation on progress in the national effort to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, President Ramaphosa said South Africa currently has the estimated capacity, at present, to vaccinate at least 150 000 people a day.
The President said plans are afoot to increase this to 250 000 a day, “as soon as possible”.
President Ramaphosa announced the move back to Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown in a bid to fight rising infections.
The rollout of the single-dose vaccine suffered some setbacks after the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) halted production following the investigation of good manufacturing practice (GMP) violations at the Johnson and Johnson factory in Baltimore, USA.
Because of these problems, two million vaccine doses that had already been produced are unusable.
However, President Ramaphosa said the issues surrounding productions have now been resolved.
“The Aspen plant in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape is now able to go ahead and produce new doses,” the President said, noting that the multinational has committed to significantly ramp up production.
“Now that the delays in the supply of vaccines are largely resolved, our immediate task is to complete the vaccination of all those over 60 years of age without delay.”
Meanwhile, the President said by the end of June, South Africa expects to have received a total of 3.1 million Pfizer vaccine doses. This is in addition to nearly 2.4 million Pfizer vaccine doses that the country has received.
The President once again urged everyone above the age of 60 to register for vaccination, whether online, by SMS, phone or in person.
To date, 480 000 health practitioners have received the J&J vaccine under phase one of the country's vaccination rollout programme.
“While it must be our unwavering determination to ensure that no healthcare workers are infected, [there] is a significant reduction in infections, which can be attributed to the success of the first phase of our vaccination programme.
“At a similar point in the rise of the second wave of infections in early December last year, there were 640 health care workers infected by COVID-19 over a seven day period.
“In the last seven days, only 64 health care workers have been infected,” said the President.
Meanwhile, a further 1.5 million health workers and people over the age of 60 have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
This brings the total number of people who have received a vaccine dose to almost two million.
“It must motivate us to accelerate the rollout of vaccines and to ensure that all people who are eligible register and receive the vaccine,” said President Ramaphosa.
The President said he was pleased that the pace of vaccination has steadily picked up, and that the country is inoculating around 80 000 people a day at 570 sites nationally.
"Although it has encountered several setbacks, our mass vaccination programme is gaining momentum,” the President said. – SAnews.gov.za