President Cyril Ramaphosa says the 80 000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which arrived at the OR Tambo International Airport last night, are being transported to various parts of the country.

The President says most vaccination centres are expected to be ready to begin the vaccination programme from today.

“We are pleased that we are able to begin vaccination by mid-February, as we had announced. This is despite the fact that the AstraZeneca vaccine that we had procured for this purpose showed little efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant that is currently dominant in South Africa,” he says.

Ramaphosa has congratulated the Vaccine Inter-Ministerial Committee, the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize and his team, and the Medical Research Council for securing the vaccine swiftly.

“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious and will protect our health care workers from illness and death from COVID-19. To demonstrate our confidence in this vaccine and help allay any fears that people may have, the Minister of Health and I will join the first healthcare workers to receive the vaccine in Khayelitsha,” President Ramaphosa says.

The first vaccinations are scheduled this afternoon.

An additional 500 000 of the 9 million Johnson and Johnson vaccine order are expected to arrive in the country over the next four weeks.

The CEO of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Professor Glenda Gray, says they are ready to kick off the country’s inoculation programme.

Gray says,” The vaccines came in last night. We packed them at BioVac, and the first shipment went out at 3:45 this morning. The vaccine has landed in Durban, it is in flight to Kimberley and Port Elizabeth. We are scheduled to vaccinate this afternoon…”

“The vaccine for Cape Town arrives at 10am, we are set to start our first vaccine at 12 midday in Cape Town. So everything is ready,” says Gray.

She added saying vaccines have been shipped to Baragwanath and a truck load is en route to Limpopo and has already arrived in Mpumalanga and Pretoria.

Johnson & Johnson vaccines have landed:

Dr. Aslam Dasoo says there is room for optimism in the vaccination programme as the fight against the pandemic continues:

Last night, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed during the State of the Nation Address debate that 80 000 healthcare workers will be vaccinated in the coming two weeks.

He said 20 vaccination centres have been identified across the country, where more than 160 vaccinators will be deployed. The centres include the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria, Chris Hani Baragwanath in Soweto, and Groote Schuur in Cape Town.

J&J vaccine more effective against COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant found in SA:

 

South Africa exploring the following COVID-19 vaccines: