Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has assured Parliament’s Health Portfolio Committee that his department has procured enough COVID-19 vaccines for at least 26 million people so far.

He updated Parliament’s Health Committee on the country’s vaccination roll out strategy.

This week, the country received its first one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute in India.

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The goal is to have 40 million people vaccinated by the end of 2021.

Dr Mkhize says his department has engaged various manufacturers to get vaccines. He says besides the 1.5 million doses obtained from the Serum Institute in India, which have been paid for, more vaccines are expected soon.

“And then we have agreements now, which we are finalising. We have 9 million from Johnson & Johnson; another 20 million from Pfizer; another 12 million from Covax and all of that together will have no less than 27 million vaccines already assured.”

Health workers first in line

Mkhize reiterated that health workers are first in line to be vaccinated.

“We still maintain phases. We want to get health workers out first, everyone dealing with sick people – that is hospital, university, research body, clinics traditional healers and everyone.”

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Dr Mkhize says his department is determined to ensure that everything around government’s COVID-19 vaccination programme is transparent to prevent corruption.

Several MPs raised concerns over large scale corruption that could take place around the rollout, but Dr Mkhize says they will ensure that preventative measures are in place.

“The area we think might (have) contractual issues, we think needs to be given attention to prevent fraud and corruption, is logistics; logistics deliveries. We must be very tight working with AG giving us ideas, which way to look at it. We are determined to make sure process as transparent as can be. We don’t want to be bogged down by problems of corruption.”

No concern about timing 

Dr Mkhize has told opposition MPs that there should be no concern about the timing of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Members in the opposition wanted to know whether the country took too long to acquire vaccines.

Dr Mkhize says taking the country’s circumstances into consideration, there is no reason to be concerned.

“Whether started in November or January or February; the focus is 202. We must really not keep thinking we are so late; many countries haven’t started, many have started and stopped. There are many issues to be considered. I still believe that SA has actually received best we can under the circumstances.”

Minister Zweli Mkhize updates the Parliament on the rollout strategy of COVID-19 vaccine: