Thursday, 07 January 2021 15:31

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Photo Credit: Dado Ruvic.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize on Thursday announced that the country will receive its first million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine this month.

Mkhize was addressing the portfolio committee on health on the country's Covid-19 vaccine programme.

He said his department had reached an agreement with the Serum Institute of India for the first batch of doses, for front-line workers.

"Today we announce that South Africa will be receiving the first one million doses of vaccine in January and another 500,000 in February from the Serum Institute of India," said Mkhize.

"As recently as yesterday, our teams from the department of health as well as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority were fine-tuning and aligning all the regulations and processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or impediments to activate this rollout.

"We are all happy that the Serum Institute of India and the AstraZeneca vaccine have already been approved by various regulators and is being rolled out in other countries."

Mkhize assured South Africans that there will be no corruption in this procurement.

"This strengthens the credibility of all the processes as all the negotiations and payment issues are managed directly by government with the manufacturers. The concerns that we had with the PPE is that there were many vendors that we had to procure from, but this was direct between government and manufacturers," said Mkhize.

The minister said the next step was for his department to engage all stakeholders to "ensure effective rollout of the vaccines for our health workers".

Mkhize also provided details of how the rollout would occur.

In a presentation to parliament on Thursday (7 January), the Health minister said that the aim of vaccination is to:

  • Prevent morbidity and mortality;
  • Achieve herd immunity and prevent ongoing transmission.

"To deal with the pandemic, the only protection is through vaccination, "Mkhize said. "In terms of the department’s calculation, we need 67-70% of the population to be immunised to break the cycle of transmission – what is called the herd immunity."

Mkhize said that the South African government will be the sole purchaser of the vaccines for the country and that the Department of Health will contract with suppliers to purchase stock and allocate to provincial health departments and the private health sector.