Johannesburg, Feb. 2, 2021 It is all systems go in South Africa as the first batch of the coronavirus vaccine from the Serum Institute of India left Mumbai on Monday morning, with President Cyril Ramaphosa set to personally greet the plane in Johannesburg.
The first million shots of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine will be used to inoculate health care workers over the next three months. The second batch of 500,000 doses is scheduled to arrive later this month.
“Vaccination is a critical defence against Covid-19 and herd immunity will enable South Africa to intensify its effort to secure greater levels of public health and reconstruct our economy.
“The arrival of the first vaccine is an outcome of partnership between government and social partners in the country, including the private sector, as well as our interactions with partner governments, the World Health Organisation and the Pharmaceutical industry in the country and abroad,” acting presidential spokesperson Tyrone Seale told Sputnik.
Meanwhile, the health ministry says that once the vaccine arrives, samples will be taken to the laboratory for quality assurance checks.
In a comment to Sputnik, the African Union’s health agency has welcomed the news of the first batch arriving in South Africa, but expressed concerns about the continent’s other countries.
“It is a good thing and it is a relief. Our concern is how will countries that are unable to procure in Africa do the same.
“As Africa CDC we are in the process of procuring for a number of other African countries through pool procurement.
“Although other African countries are already procuring for themselves, we are here to assist by providing additional costs,” the principal communications officer at the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, James Ayodele, said.
South Africa has the largest COVID-19 tally on the continent. The country has so far logged over 1.4 million cases, including almost 1.3 million recoveries and some 44,000 deaths.