South Africa expects first batch of Covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter of 2021.

With cases exceeding 800,000 and deaths approaching 22,000, the health ministry announces deal on track to secure vaccine.

A few days after surpassing the 800 000 confirmed cases mark and with the Nelson Mandela Bay being placed under stricter measures by the president amid a spike in Covid-19 cases, the health ministry has announced the country should be receiving its first batch of a vaccine during the 2nd quarter of 2021. The deal would be facilitated under the WHO's Covax initiative, which is designed to allow lower-income countries access to promising vaccines. Announced on Friday, the ministry confirmed it was on track to sign an agreement under the facility by the 15 December, and to also make payment on the same day.

The supply arrangement, expected to cover 10% of the population, follows agreement by the Solidarity Fund to make an initial payment of R327 million (US$22 million). The overall cost for the country's 58 million population is expected to be as high as R2.2 billion. In addition to accessing a vaccine via the initiative, the South African government is also exploring buying vaccines from other leading manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, AstraZeneca as well as Pfizer/BioNtech. However, none of the manufacturers had yet submitted their dossiers to SAHPRA for local roll out, according to the ministry.