Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says the global coronavirus vaccine rollout has suffered a major blow due to high demand of vaccines throughout the world.
South Africa had to pause AstraZeneca vaccinations in February because of a small trial showing that the vaccine offers minimal protection against mild to moderate illness caused by the dominant coronavirus variant.
At the time, the country had received one million AstraZeneca doses from the Serum Institute of India and the delivery of another 500 000 was pending.
The Department of Health announced on Sunday that the deal to sell the vaccines to the African Union (AU) had been completed and that they were on their way to 14 African countries.
Mkhize says pausing the rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines has interrupted the progress of vaccine rollout in South Africa.
“That is the changeover that has caused us to be where we are. Of course, if we were to use those vaccines we would be talking about more [than] two million people [could have been] vaccinated. At this point, we have Johnson & Johnson vaccines.”
“In the next two weeks, we would have gotten the full total of 500 000. In April we expect 7 million of the Pfizer vaccines to be with us and 3 million of J&J would be with us,” explains the minister.
Watch the video below for the full interview with the minister:
Easter weekend precautions
Mkhize says strict precautionary measures will be taken over the Easter weekend to prevent potential coronavirus super spreader events.
His statement comes as experts advised government to put the country under a stricter lockdown level for the Easter weekend.
They have warned that a third wave of coronavirus infections could hit South Africa after the holiday period.
South Africa will mark one year on Friday since the country was placed under hard lockdown.
Mkhize says it is crucial to take safety measures, particularly over the holiday period