President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday called on pharmaceutical companies to transfer mRNA vaccine technology to low and middle-income countries “free of intellectual property barriers”.

Speaking at a virtual World Health Organization (WHO) briefing, Ramaphosa added that vaccine nationalism was seriously threatening the world’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and deepening inequality.

“Let us together challenge vaccine nationalism and ensure that protecting intellectual property rights does not come at the expense of human lives,” he adds.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the next phase of the vaccination programme targeting the elderly and essential workers would begin in May.

He said South Africa had secured more than 50-million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Suspension on J&J lifted

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshaveni has announced that Cabinet has agreed to lift the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine programme.

The Health Minister will announce the recommencement of the programme, through a media briefing, soon.  

Ntshaveni says the country is expecting about one million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine by Monday next week.

J&J vaccine rollout expected to resume soon: