The country which is yet to receive its first doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, expects millions of additional doses from the US pharma giant.
To date, South Africa has reported more than 1.3 million positive cases and over 37,000 deaths – the most across the African continent. Having been criticized for not moving fast enough to secure delivery of a vaccine, the government has announced several measures in the past few weeks that suggest inoculations are getting closer. In addition to being in line to receive 9 million doses from J&J, the country expects to receive 12 million doses from the COVAX programme led by the World Health Organisation, another 12 million doses through the African Union, and 1.5 from the Serum Institute of India. This brings the total number of secured doses to nearly 35 million.
Announced last week by AU Chair, the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, the continental body has secured 270 doses which will be distributed across its 54 nations on the basis of population size. Previously, local pharma giant Aspen had offered to manufacture the J&J vaccine locally. However, should the government not put an agreement in place soon enough, the shots are likely to be imported. On Monday, the health ministry spokeswoman, Lwazi Manzi did not provide an indication of when the J&J doses might be available. However, since J&J only expects to have clear efficacy data for its vaccine by end of January or early February, it is likely the single-shot vaccine will only be available from February onwards.