Cape Town – Thousands of healthcare workers have been vaccinated as more doses of the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine arrived in the country.
On Saturday, the Department of Health confirmed that more than 63 000 healthcare workers were vaccinated.
This comes after another batch of 80 000 doses of Johnson & Johnson landed at OR Tambo International Airport from Brussels.
Dr Zweli Mkhize, the health minister, has said the country's vaccination campaign is moving swiftly and that the government has never been asleep.
Mkhize addressed Parliament earlier this week on the latest developments regarding the country's vaccination programme.
The first phase of the vaccination programme is targeted at healthcare workers and is being implemented as part of an implementation study approved by the SAHPRA.
The actual J&J vaccine has yet to be commercially approved for use in the country – that process is still under way.
Mkhize said provinces, who were in charge of the inoculation drive, were on course to inoculate 80 000 healthcare workers in two weeks. The country has over 1 million healthcare workers who will need to be vaccinated because of the dangers of their jobs.
The minister said the vaccination procurement programme has been complex and has included extensive negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.
SA has ordered millions of doses from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, while discussions were in place with US-based pharmaceutical company Moderna.
Mkhize said non-disclosure agreements had been signed with China for discussions for the country's two coronavirus vaccines. Other engagements were ongoing with Russia for the country's Sputnik V vaccine.
Mkhize said two vaccines will not be considered for use in the country because of the dominant 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant. These included AstraZeneca and Covaxx vaccines.
The AstraZeneca vaccine had shown a decrease in protection against mild to moderate symptoms caused by the 501Y.V2 variant. The government had already received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The minister said these doses will now be sold to the African Union in a "win, win situation".
He insisted they will not be given for free. Mkhize said 20 African countries were set to benefit from the sale.
The country will also receive vaccine doses from the AU and the World Health Organisation's Covax programme.
Mkhize had indicated that the government would also be creating a no-fault campaign fund to compensate individuals who may suffer adverse effects from the inoculations.
He said such funds were the norm. Such funds help protect vaccine manufacturers from being sued because of the adverse effects of the vaccine inoculations.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni mentioned the fund during his budget speech on Wednesday.