Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, has confirmed that government has concluded its sale of one million doses of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine that arrived in the country in the middle of last month.
The vaccine was purchased from the Serum Institute in India and its rollout was suspended after the results of a small study showed that the jab had limited efficacy against the dominant coronavirus variant that was discovered in the country at the end of last year.
Mkhize says the vaccines that expire in April will be sent to 14 African Union countries after an AU vaccine acquisition team found that they have obtained all regulatory approvals, permits and licenses to rollout the vaccines.
AU says AstraZeneca vaccine benefits outweigh risks:
The Health Minister says his department was paid last Monday for the doses.
The first batch of the vaccines was flown to nine African countries earlier on Sunday, while the balance destined for five other countries will be collected later this week.
The sale of the vaccines went ahead despite the principal investigator of the AstraZeneca vaccine trial, Professor Shabir Madhi, saying that it could still be used in South Africa as there is reason to believe that it was effective against severe COVID-19 infection.
However, several European countries have temporarily stopped the rollout of the vaccine as a precautionary measure after a small number of people developed blood clots after getting the shot.