South Africa offers AstraZeneca jabs to AU

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize addressed parliament. Courtesy of #DStv403

CAPE TOWN - South Africa will give its doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to the African Union after scrapping their use due to efficacy concerns, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.

The country suspended its vaccine rollout -- which was meant to begin with the AstraZeneca shots earlier month -- after a study found the jab failed to prevent mild and moderate illness caused by a new variant discovered in South Africa.

READ: Johnson & Johnson vaccine due in SA today

"The doses we purchased have been offered to the African Union to distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock," Mkhize told Parliament.

"There will be no wasteful and fruitless expenditure." 

The country had secured a million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute of India and was set to receive an additional consignment of 500,000. 

READ: J&J vaccine is safe: Health Ombudsman

But South Africa has now settled for the yet-to-be-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, securing nine million doses including 80,000 expected to be delivered this week.  

Vaccination will begin with healthcare workers as part of an implementation study, Mkhize said. 

READ: COVID-19 vaccine: Health workers to receive first jabs

Those vaccines will be supplemented by 20 million doses of the Pfizer formula as South Africa embarks on an ambitious aim to inoculate around 40 million people -- 67 percent of the population -- by the end of the year.

More doses will be secured through the World Health Organization-backed Covax facility and the AU.


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