DURBAN –The first batch of Pfizer vaccines have officially arrived in the country.
Just after midnight, 325 260 doses of the vaccines landed at the OR Tambo International Airport.
The vaccines were transported from the airport under strict police guard and this morning, samples are expected to be sent to the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance. Thereafter, the vaccines will be distributed to each province.
Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that following this initial delivery of Pfizer approximately the same number of doses are scheduled to arrive on a weekly basis to a total of over 1.3 million doses by the end of May.
"Thereafter, the vaccine supply will increase to an average of 636 480 doses weekly from May 31 which will see us accumulating close to 4.5 million doses by the end of June," Mkhize said.
He said his department has been informed that doses of Johnson & Johnson, awaiting dispatch from Gqeberha, will be released about mid May.
Mkhize said this was a protracted safety verification process taken as a precautionary measure following the adverse findings during inspection of Emergent BioSolutions Bayview facility in the US, one of the manufacturing partners of Johnson and Johnson, which prompted the authorities to extend their assessments of all Johnson & Johnson stock worldwide. These assessments are still under way.
The Health Minister said he was confident that the final outcome would be positive and J&J would be able to release the stock from the Gqeberha facility.
"The stock is currently finished and ready for dispatch. In the meantime, we will continue to vaccinate our health-care workers with the remaining early access doses of J&J and we will proceed to vaccinate with Pfizer," he said.
Currently, 318 670 health-care workers have been vaccinated.