South Africa is expected to resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to immunise healthcare workers soon, a move that is expected to bring stability in the markets as Covid-19 cases are on the rise. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)
South Africa is expected to resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to immunise healthcare workers soon, a move that is expected to bring stability in the markets as Covid-19 cases are on the rise. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP)

SA resumption of vaccine drive expected to stabilise market

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - SOUTH Africa is expected to resume the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to immunise healthcare workers soon, a move that is expected to bring stability in the markets as Covid-19 cases are on the rise.

Confidence in the global economic recovery has been rising due to the success of vaccination roll-outs in various countries with investors in South African markets keeping a keen eye on the speed of vaccine delivery as well as the virus infection rate.

The government yesterday said the temporary suspension of the J&J vaccine on the Sisonke Vaccination Programme will be lifted, however, a date was yet to be confirmed.

The Department of Health last week temporarily suspended the J&J vaccination programme as a precautionary measure after six people developed a rare type of blood clot in the US, which led to the rand sliding in cautious trade as risk sentiment soured.

The suspension of the vaccine roll-out had brought slight uncertainty into the financial markets.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said the reviewed data had confirmed that South Africa had not experienced any rare blood clots with the already vaccinated healthcare workers.

More than 292 623 healthcare workers had been vaccinated under the Sisonke Vaccination Programme by mid-April.

Ntshavheni said the Cabinet had been in discussions with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) over their concerns about suspending the vaccination programme.

Sahpra recommended that the pause in the Sisonke study be lifted provided that specific conditions were met, including strengthened screening of participants at high risk of a blood clotting disorder.

“Cabinet welcomed the recommendation by the Sahpra to lift the suspension of the J&J Sisonke Vaccination Programme,” Ntshavheni said.

“The Department of Health will announce the commencement. The reimplementation will commence as soon as the department is ready with all its systems.

“We are receiving one million doses of the J&J vaccine on Monday from our plant in Gqeberha.”

Through its agreements with J&J and Pfizer, South Africa has secured enough vaccines for 46 million of its roughly 60 million population.

The government also expressed concerns over a slight surge of 4.9 percent in persons testing positive for Covid-19 in the past 14 days due to cluster resurgences in the Free State and Northern Cape.

Investors this week dumped emerging markets currencies as countries like India and Brazil continue recording very high Covid-19 infection rates.

The rand has been stuck in a very narrow trading range as it has struggled for direction against the dollar.

FXTM’s senior research analyst Lukman Otunnuga said it felt like the rand was searching for a fresh directional catalyst before making its next move.

Otunuga said a sense of caution continues to linger amid concerns about the surge in global coronavirus cases.

“Even the latest inflation figures failed to move the currency with the rand trading around R14.28 to the greenback,” he said.

“If investors adopt a defensive approach and risk-off returns, this could hit emerging market currencies including the rand.”

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