Cape Town – South Africa received a donation of 2.8 million doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine from the United States government.
Receiving the donation on Saturday, acting Health Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi thanked the American government and President Joe Biden for the donation.
“This donation comes handy for us. It is going to assist us in terms of ramping up our vaccine programme,” she said adding that the department was looking at increasing the number of daily vaccinations done.
“This contribution comes very handy and comes timely for us as we roll out. It contributes towards our supply site in terms of security of supply to be able to meet the demands that we have.”
She said that they have been working to ensure that more African countries get vaccine. Kubayi was joined by Deputy Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla and Chief of Mission at US Embassy in South Africa Todd Haskell.
The 2.8 million doses is the first consignment from the American government. The department said the next batch was expected to arrive on Tuesday to conclude the 5.6 million donated doses.
“On behalf of our government and the people of South Africa, we appreciate the donation from the American Government, led by President Joe Biden.
“This was a commitment made to President Cyril Ramaphosa as African Union Champion on Covid-19 and establishment of Commission on African Covid-19 response, to ensure equal access to vaccines as we collectively wage the war against the pandemic,” said Kubayi.
“This is a single bilateral donation and shows the good relations between our two countries. It also demonstrates the seriousness of the US Government in sustaining the relationship.”
The arrival of the 1st Pfizer vaccines consigned is part of the donation from USA government. The next batch will arrive on Tuesday to conclude the 5.6 m doses donation #VaccineRollOutSA pic.twitter.com/sswqGekYZm— Department of Health (@HealthZA) July 31, 2021
On Wednesday, Reuters reported that White House officials said that nearly 10 million doses would be shipped to Nigeria and South Africa – as they were two of the most populous countries on the continent.
Four million doses of the Moderna vaccine will go to Nigeria and 5.66 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will go to South Africa.
Last month, the Biden-Harris administration announced an allocation plan for 55 million doses to be shared globally.
“This vaccine strategy is a vital component of our overall global effort to lead the world in the fight to defeat Covid-19, and to achieve global health security,” read a statement from the White House at the time.
The shipment, en route to South Africa, is the largest sent by the US since it began sending Covid-19 vaccine doses to other countries. The US has sent a total of 16.4 million doses to the African continent.
On Saturday, Haskell said the Pfizer vaccine has generally been extremely effective against all the Covid-19 variants.
Haskell stated: “I am very proud that we are able to share these vaccine doses with South Africans and have no doubt that the medicines will help save many lives in this country.
“Over the years, through programs such as PEPFAR, the United States and South Africa have built one of the strongest bilateral health partnerships in the world, which is why our countries have been able to successfully work hand-in-hand since the very beginning of the pandemic to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” said Haskell.
“South Africans know they can count on the United States, as a friend and partner, to support their efforts to fight the pandemic and get their economy back on track.”