Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize says South Africa will receive it’s first Covid-19 vaccines in the second quarter of 2021, with the country currently experiencing a second wave of virus infections this festive season.
Speaking on SABC’s Morning Live on Thursday morning, Mkhize assured South Africans that the vaccines would be safe to take.
Mkhize was joined by Prof Helen Rees from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), the Department of Health’s Dr Anban Pillay and Prof Jeffrey Mphahlele of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).
Pillay confirmed that dossiers of the vaccine would be rolled out mid-2021.
“A dossier will be ready early January; we can then expect rollout thereafter. They have advised us to plan for a rollout early in the second quarter.
“The Covid vaccines are currently in a regulatory assessment phase across the world. We have participated in the Covax agreement so we will hear from Covax which vaccine has been allocated to SA,” said Pillay.
With a number of vaccines being rolled out globally, it is not yet known which vaccine South Africa will receive. It was previously announced that there were four candidate vaccines that had been trialled by South Africa, which are produced by AstraZeneca, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech.
South Africa expects to receive an initial order of vaccines to cover 10% of the population.
Pillay revealed that third-world countries were behind in line of receiving the vaccines.
“The developing countries have largely been at the back end of receiving vaccines largely because the manufacturers of these vaccines are looking for funding and will turn to countries like the US and UK for financing.”
President Cyril Ramaphosa previously revealed that South Africa had concluded all necessary processes to ensure participation in the World Health Organisation’s (WHO’s) Covax programme, which will ensure equitable access to vaccines for all developing countries.
Meanwhile, Rees assured the public that SAHPRA would assess the safety and quality of the vaccine.
“Safety monitoring is being done under extremely rigorous conditions. South Africa has a tradition of being very open to vaccines. The more information we get out there, the better.”
“South Africa has been one of the very few African countries who participated in vaccine trials. All of these trials are very closely monitoring by regulatory authorities,” she said.