Home South African Mkhize tells Parly 1.1 million to receive vaccine by end of March

Mkhize tells Parly 1.1 million to receive vaccine by end of March

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Addressing Parliament, Mkhize also said authorities might have to inoculate more than their original target of 40 million people to reach herd immunity.

File image. Picture Timothy Bernard/African News Agency(ANA)

Cape Town – South Africa aims to vaccinate around 1.1 million people against Covid-19 by the end of March as it ramps up its immunisation programme, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Thursday.

Addressing Parliament, Mkhize also said authorities might have to inoculate more than their original target of 40 million people to reach herd immunity.

South Africa started rolling out Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine last week in a research study targeting healthcare workers. Doses of the Pfizer vaccine are set to arrive soon.

Mkhize said so far more than 32 000 health workers had been given the J&J shot.

Previously, health authorities said they had secured 20 million doses from Pfizer and 9 million from J&J.

But Mkhize said those numbers were just “opening negotiations” and final volumes were likely to be different. “Once it is finalised we will announce new numbers very soon,” he said.

Health advisers had estimated that, to ensure population herd immunity, at least 40 million people needed to be vaccinated.

However, “as we go on with our discussions, it does appear we may have to do more than 40 million,” Mkhize said.

Mkhize, a trained medical doctor, said on Tuesday that government advisers had grouped Covid-19 vaccines into three categories and those considered for “immediate use” were the J&J, Pfizer and Moderna shots.

A health ministry presentation on Thursday said “full licensing” through local medicines regulator SAHPRA for J&J’s vaccine could take “a couple of months”.

South Africa has recorded around 1.5 million Covid-19 cases and 49 500 deaths to date, respectively over one-third and almost half of Africa’s totals.