The first batch of the United States’ donation of 5.7 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to South Africa has arrived in the country.

In total, 2.8 million doses arrived on Saturday and the next batch is expected to arrive on Tuesday.

The donation is part of President Joe Biden’s promise to give 500 million vaccines to the world by the end of 2022.

The vaccines are being brought in through COVAX, the international aid initiative that seeks to ensure global access to vaccines.

Acting health minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi, and her deputy, Dr Joe Phaahla, were at the OR Tambo International Airport to welcome the donation.

The minister says the doses will contribute to the country’s expanded vaccination programme, which is fast gaining momentum to reach more people.

“The vaccines would also be distributed to other countries in the continent through the African Union Commission,” she adds.

So far, the haul will be the largest donation of COVID vaccines to a single country by the US.

Minister Kubayi says: “This is a single bilateral donation and shows the good relations between our two countries. It also demonstrates the seriousness of the US
government in sustaining the relationship.”

The SA delegation was joined by Chargé d’ Affaires at the US Mission Todd Haskell.

“I am very proud that we are able to share these vaccine doses with South Africans and have no doubt that the medicines will help save many lives in this country. Over the years, through programs such as PEPFAR, the United States and South Africa have built one of the strongest bilateral health partnerships in the world, which is why our countries have been able to successfully work hand-in-hand since the very beginning of the pandemic to protect the health and safety of our citizens,” says Haskell.

US donates 5.7 million Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses to SA: