South Africa receives first batch of Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine

The first of four batches is received as the country looks to expand vaccine rollout.

The South African minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced the receipt of the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine. South Africa has secured 4.5 million doses of the vaccine which will be delivered in weekly intervals with the last batch expected by the end of June 2021. A total of 1.3 million doses ought to be delivered by the end of May; and batch amounts will double in number as of June to reach 4.5 million. Extra security measures have been put into place to safeguard the transport logistical matters and product quality checks at the National Control Laboratory. Thereafter, the vaccine will be sent out to all nine provinces of the country.

Vaccine roll-out will continue prioritising vaccinating healthcare workers, traditional healers, and elderly citizens above 60 years of age. The news of the receipt of the vaccine Pfizer comes shortly after the country recently resumed its Sisonke programme following a brief hold amid safety concerns. The Pfizer vaccine received Emergency Use Authorisation from the US Food and Drug Administration in December of 2020. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority approved an emergency roll-out in March 2021. The vaccine reported a high safety efficacy in preventing severe disease in their well-designed Phase 3 study with 44 000 enrolled participants. More analysis is being conducted to study efficacy on the surfacing varying strains of the disease.