Mkhize: Covid-19 vaccine doses should increase 'rapidly' over next few months

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize.
Gallo Images/Darren Stewart
  • Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says government’s vaccination plan is still on track.
  • A total of 43 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been secured, he says.
  • Mkhize was responding to questions in the National Assembly.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says government’s plan to vaccinate more than 40 million South Africans by the end of the year is still on track.

On Wednesday, Mkhize told Parliament that vaccine doses would increase rapidly from April.

"The rate of the vaccination of our health workers is limited by the flow of vaccines. At this point, it is still limited. We anticipate that the number of vaccine (doses) will rapidly increase from April, May and June.

"Therefore, we would be in a position to escalate the numbers of people who will get vaccines, with the target of 40 million people by the end of the year," he said.

READ | Dry ice set to be critical for transporting Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in SA

Mkhize was responding to questions in the National Assembly, along with other ministers in the social cluster.

As the supply of Covid-19 vaccines remained constrained, plans would be altered, he said.

"Whatever plan any country is embarking on, it will depend on the speed of delivery by vaccine manufacturing companies. We are not the only country feeling the constraints, everyone has the same challenges. Our target remains the end of the year... we will revise it as the time goes on, pending on where we see the constraints on vaccines."

READ | Western Cape already bracing for Covid-19 third wave

Mkhize said 43 million vaccine doses had been secured.

"Our agreements are currently with Johnson & Johnson for 11 million doses, and 20 million doses from Pfizer. There is also the commitment of 12 million doses from the Covax facility. The delivery schedule from Johnson & Johnson is committed in quarters. Once we have the matter refined, we will be able to say month-by-month how much we are getting."

South Africa was also finalising the sale of one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to the African Union.

They would be sold at the price at which they were bought.

Local scientists are still working on research regarding the efficacy of the vaccine.

South Africa ordered 1.5 million vaccines from the Serum Institute of India.

READ ALSO | 'We will not end the pandemic anywhere, unless we end it everywhere' - WHO director-general

Days after arriving in the country, it was discovered that the vaccine had a 22% efficacy rate against the new Covid-19 variant.

Mkhize said there was the possibility of a third wave of infections, and reiterated that this could not be predicted accurately.

"We hope to do as much as possible to protect South Africans. The risk of a third or fourth wave can never be excluded, no one can say until the majority of populations are vaccinated," he said.

On the use of ivermectin, Mkhize said guidelines had been issued by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

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