Updated: Feb 8, 2021
Having dominated headlines for the past few days, the eagerly awaited batch of AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine has finally been received.
A short while ago, South Africa received its first batch of a million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII). Received by a high-level delegation including President Cyril Ramaphosa, his Deputy David Mabuza and the Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, the eagerly awaited Emirates plane which left Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday, landed around 15h00 this afternoon. The delivery also comes a day after it was reported that the country has secured 20 million doses from Pfizer – bringing the total number of secured doses to 42 million, which is enough to inoculate 70% of the population.
Given its comparatively easier storage requirements of 2-8°C, AstraZeneca-Oxford’s vaccine is seen as a far better option for South Africa, and the rest of the continent. Once the customs clearance is completed, the vaccine will be transported in temperature-controlled trucks to the National Control Laboratory in Bloemfontein for further testing. According to the health ministry, the whole process is expected to take up to 14 days, after which the inoculation of patient-facing healthcare workers would commence. With data indicating that the peak of the second wave has passed, and an easing of lockdown restrictions will likely follow soon, the country seems to be finally moving closer to putting the pandemic behind it.