Cabinet backs use of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, extends state of disaster
Johannesburg – The government has extended the State of Disaster until March 15 following a cabinet meeting this week.
The extension came after President Cyril Ramaphosa eased some of the lockdown restrictions and allowed for the sale of alcohol and extended the curfew period. The country has been in lockdown since the outbreak of Covid-19 last March.
In a statement, the cabinet also said it fully backed the use of Johnson & Johnson after the government pulled the plug on the rollout of AstraZeneca, after it was found to be less effective against the variant in South Africa.
“Government has prioritised the country’s vaccination programme to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Cabinet reassures South Africans that this programme remains on track.
’’The Johnson & Johnson vaccine will now be used instead of the AstraZeneca vaccine,” said cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams.
“This change follows the comprehensive research conducted by medical scientists which showed that the AstraZeneca had a minimal efficacy against the Covid-19 501Y.V2 variant.
’’The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proven effective against the 501Y.V2 variant that is predominately found in the country,” she said.
“Cabinet commended the work of the scientists and researchers who made the breakthrough on the efficacy of the vaccines against the 501Y.V2 variant. This affirms the country’s well-established scientific capability that is recognised the world over.
“The procurement of the AstraZeneca vaccine was based on its proven efficacy before the discovery of the 501Y.V2 variant in the country.
’’The consignment that was received from the Serum Institute of India on 1 February, 2021 has not expired and was within the period of the rollout of the first phase of the vaccination programme.
“Cabinet expressed confidence on the planned vaccine rollout that will commence with the more than 1.2 million front-line healthcare workers.
’’The Department of Health, working with National Treasury, will continue to procure more vaccines to ensure the country achieves its population immunity,” she said.