First batch of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine set to arrive in May, Mkhize tells Parliament

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Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Jeffrey Abrahams, Gallo Images
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced that a batch of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in the country in the first week of May.
  • Mkhize has told Parliament 325 260 vaccine doses will be received weekly between 3 and 24 May.
  • South Africa is set to get a total of 30 million Pfizer vaccine doses.

A day after pausing the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced that the first batch of the Pfizer vaccine will arrive in the country in the first week of May.

Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday, Mkhize said every week, starting on 3 May, South Africa would be receiving 325 260 vaccine doses.

"That number [of doses] will be received weekly until 24 May. Starting from 31 May, we will receive 636 480 every week for the following four weeks until 28 June. This means in May we will then have received 1.9 million vaccines and 2.54 million vaccines by the end of June," Mkhize said.

The figures, Mkhize said, were based on the agreement government signed with Pfizer for the first 20 million doses.

READ | J&J vaccine rollout suspended, final decision expected soon

Mkhize said the government had secured 10 million additional Pfizer vaccine doses, bringing the total number to 30 million doses.

He said:

[In respect of the 10 million additional doses] Pfizer has indicated that they will be giving an additional two million doses in May. This number will increase to eight million in the third quarter from July onwards and then in the last quarter, by October, we will get another 6.5 million. This means by quarter three we will have a total of 16.5 million vaccines from Pfizer. Then, in quarter four, we will receive the balance of 6.9 million vaccines. This is a huge boost for us because we need to vaccinate as many people as possible before we get to a third wave.

On Tuesday, the health ministry decided to halt the Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made a similar decision.

The FDA reported that six women developed blood clots after getting the vaccine. More than six million US residents have so far received the J&J vaccine.

This is the second time the country has paused the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccine.

READ ALSO | J&J Covid-19 vaccine: Are blood clots and the pausing of SA's rollout a cause for major concern?

The rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine was halted just a few days before it was scheduled to start after it was found not to be efficacious against the 501Y.V2 variant. At the time, the pause was supposed to be temporary, but a decision was later made to sell the one million doses to the African Union.

Locally, more than a million doses of the J&J vaccine are supposed to be delivered next week by the Aspen facility in the Eastern Cape.

In respect of the J&J vaccine, Mkhize said talks are expected to get under way with the company to "understand how the subsequent rollout would [proceed]".

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