Next batch of J&J Covid-19 vaccine to arrive this weekend, says Mkhize

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Darren Stewart/Gallo Images
  • Another batch of the J&J vaccine is expected on Saturday.
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement in Parliament during a debate on the government's Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan.
  • Mkhize said 80 000 doses of the vaccine are expected.

South Africa is set to get another batch of Johnson & Johnson vaccines on Saturday.

On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement in Parliament during a debate on the government's Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan.

"It gives me great pleasure to reveal that we will receive another batch of J&J vaccines on Saturday. We have joined more than 87 countries in the fight against Covid-19. Our programme is rapidly gaining momentum. We have now vaccinated 23 059 as of yesterday. We are on course to reach 40 000 by this Wednesday," he said.

READ | Pricks and queues: Glitches leave some health workers waiting for Covid-19 jab

Mkhize said another 80 000 doses of the J&J vaccine are expected, while negotiations are ongoing with "most manufacturers" - the Russians, Chinese and Cubans - for vaccines.

Mkhize also said the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was found to offer little protection against the SA Covid-19 variant, was sold to the African Union.

He said most African countries don't have the problem with the new variant.

Opposition parties, however, lamented the slow pace of the vaccine rollout.

PICS | The vaccine has arrived! Here are snaps of how the first day went

The DA's spokesperson on health, Siviwe Gwarube, said in Parliament that questions around the vaccine rollout were treated as antagonism.

"In committees, that are composed of a majority of ANC members, the executive was often protected, and tough questions blocked, despite the crisis the country has been in.

"Members of this House chose party lines over the tough decisions that we so desperately needed. For many in the executive, accountability, checks and balances, which are key tenants of our constitutional democracy, are viewed as attacks," Gwarube said.

"And when the opposition started to ring the alarm about the vaccine rollout plan late last year, we were told 'all is under control'... except it was not," she added.

EFF MP Sophie Suzan Thembekwayo said everyone, except the government, knew the country would not be the same after the first Covid-19 case.

"We all knew, except for the ruling party, that with a pandemic of this nature, the rich countries of the world would be hording vaccines at the expense of poorer countries. Despite this, no plan was made to vaccinate the country," she said.

ACDP MP Steve Swarts said: "It is critical that an open and transparent process is followed with the rollout of the vaccine programme. What makes matters worse is that the ANC openly advertises on its Progressive Business Forum that it is pushing for its members to secure a cut of the vaccine contracts.

"It will be a fertile ground for looting and corruption, with R25 billon to R30 billion to be spent. Fertile ground indeed. This must be prevented at all costs by proper oversight and accountability."

READ ALSO | Presidency welcomes DA withdrawal of vaccine rollout court challenge

GOOD MP Shaun August cautioned against using the vaccine rollout as a political football.

"Lives are at stake. Let's continue to focus on the science and resist the temptation to score goals in an election year. And let's focus on the logistics of safely vaccinating the nation, while doing all that we can to continue supporting vulnerable people, who have been most devastated by the economic turbulence," he said.

In response to opposition parties, Mkhize said: "We did everything in our power to ensure that key developments in the characteristics of the virus did not derail us from our plans to begin vaccination in February. We were never asleep, we chose a strategy that was guided by science as we did not have the financial muscle to make unhedged bets."

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