Saturday, 28 August 2021 10:27

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

A further 2.2 million Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine doses are expected to arrive in South Africa on Saturday, thanks to a donation by the US via the Covax facility. 

The arrival of the vaccines was confirmed by health minister Joe Phaahla on Friday. 

Phaahla said the arrival of the vaccine doses would help ensure the country has a more stable supply of the vaccine.

The country received 5.6 million Covid-19 vaccine doses last month. 

Although more Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses are needed, the department said the priority at this stage was to ensure all willing South African adults get a vaccine dose.

"At this stage, our priority is to make sure that we reach immunity population coverage," Phaahla said.

Phaahla said although government was "very reluctant" to venture into creating a mandatory vaccination policy, it is being discussed. 

He said in his view, he did not foresee a regulation to force everyone to get vaccinated. 

"But what is possible and what we consider is that where various service providers or areas of entertainment or where people obtain services or even workplaces… there is a possibility that a locally determined requirement can be [made]."

More and more American companies are looking at mandatory vaccinations for employees – and customers.

The move to donate hundreds of millions of vaccines around the world will also serve to counter efforts by Russia and China to use their own state-funded vaccines to expand their global influence. The White House has said it is concerned by efforts by Russia and China to use vaccines to make geopolitical gains.

Officials have said that 200 million of the 500 million doses will be delivered by the end of this year, and the remaining 300 million doses will be delivered in the first half of 2022. About 75% of these vaccines will be shared with COVAX and about 25% will be shared directly with countries in need.

The Joe Biden administration has also already distributed the 80 million doses the President initially pledged to donate from surplus US supply.

The President has also said $2 billion in US contributions would go toward a global coronavirus vaccine initiative and would provide support to COVAX. He also pledged an additional $2 billion in funding contingent on contributions from other nations and dose delivery targets being met.