Department of Health deputy director-general Dr Anban Pillay says that South Africa’s key politicians could be among the first in the country to receive a Covid-19 vaccine as a way of reassuring the public of its safety.
In an interview with the SABC, Pillay said that healthcare workers will be the key priority in the first phase of the Covid-19 vaccine, with other essential workers – including the a number of government workers – covered in phase 2.
This will include parliamentarians, national and provincial government workers, as decided upon by the Covid-19 Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC), he said.
However, Pillay said that even before healthcare workers receive their vaccine in the first phase, there has been a recommendation that key leaders take the vaccination publicly so that its safety and efficacy is made clear.
While Pillay did not specify which leaders would be first in line, it is likely to include president Cyril Ramaphosa and members of his cabinet.
One million dosages of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) vaccine are scheduled to arrive the country on Monday (1 February).
A further 500,000 vaccine doses are set to arrive in the country later in February.
In a surprise announcement, Mkhize said that South Africa is set to receive an additional 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
He said that these vaccines have been secured and that government was now just awaiting manufacturers to submit final agreements with details of delivery dates and exact amounts.
Further vaccine orders would be announced once details had been finalised, Mkhize said.
Mkhize also confirmed that the country has enough storage space to safely secure the vaccines at the correct temperatures, and that government plans to issue a formal tender process next week.