Sunday 31 January 2021


President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, will receive South Africa’s first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine on Monday, the Presidency said.

The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday.

The vaccines are travelling on an Emirates plane via Dubai, and will arrive at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Monday afternoon.

According to the Presidency, Ramaphosa and Mabuza will be joined at the arrival event by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, High Commissioner of the Republic of India His Excellency Jaideep Sarkar and Dr Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer of Biovac.

“Biovac is a bio-pharmaceutical company that was formed in 2003 in a partnership between government and private investors to establish local vaccine manufacturing capability. Biovac will play an important role in the quality assurance, warehousing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines,” the Presidency said.

High Commissioner Sarkar will represent India as the country of origin of the first vaccine to be rolled out in South Africa.

Mkhize has previously said the vaccines would first have to go through strict quality assurance and stock control over a period of 10 to 14 days, before they are distributed across the country’s nine provinces.

A second shipment of 500 000 doses from SII is expected to arrive later in February. South Africa will reportedly pay $5.25 (R77.67) per dose for the 1.5 million shots.

The Health Department aims to vaccinate around 40 million people by the end of the year, equating to around 67% of the population. If the target is met, top scientists say the country would have achieved population immunity.

The first phase of this rollout programme will prioritise around 1.2 million frontline health workers.

“The arrival of the first consignment at OR Tambo International Airport marks the start of the vaccine rollout which President Ramaphosa describes as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in South Africa’s country’s history,” the Presidency said.

“The scale of delivery is unprecedented in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time.”

The Presidency said that Monday’s arrival event would be brief, “with dignitaries witnessing airline, airport, health, customs and security personnel perform their duties of ensuring that the vaccine consignment is cleared and securely transported to its cold-room destination”. IOL


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