Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says healthcare workers will be vaccinated with Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine in the form of an “implementation study” in partnership with the Medical Research Council.

This means the government will not have to pay for the first batch of the vaccine.

The country has put on hold the roll-out of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

This follows the release of data in a small clinical trial that shows that it does not protect against mild to moderate illness from the new variant of the virus in South Africa.

Mkhize says his department will continue with its phase one vaccination plan using the Johnson and Johnson vaccine instead of the AstraZeneca one.

He says, “We do anticipate that they will have their first batch probably and I’m not their spokesperson, but just for purposes of the public is to say the impression I have is to say they will have their first batch manufactured around March. Now there is a period of about a month that they have got to hold any stock that is fully manufactured.”

Mkhize says the deal to procure the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute in India was sealed before the new variant of the coronavirus was detected in South Africa.

In the video below, Minister Mkhize briefs the media on the department’s vaccination plan:

 

The Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 vaccines Professor Barry Schoub says the Johnson and Johnson vaccine does work: