By Nontshi Shange
In a surprise announcement, in an interview with the Sunday Times, health minister Zweli Mkhize said the government had secured 20 million vaccines from Pfizer. This is the largest order to date and brings the total number of vaccines that the government has ordered to 42 million. South Africa can expect 9 million doses from Johnson & Johnson, 1.5 million from AstraZeneca, and 12 million from the Covax facility. In total, this will amount to enough vaccines to vaccinate almost two thirds of SA.
There have been some concerns about the Pfizer vaccine, namely: would it work against the variant, and will we be able to store the vaccine, which requires a temperature of -70 degrees Celsius? The health minister has assured people that there are more than enough facilities to store the vaccine – most of them are in academic institutions. A study by Pfizer showed that the vaccine will be effective against the variant strain of Covid-19 present in SA.
Mkhize said the details of more vaccine purchases will be available in due course, which makes us hopeful that more good news is in store. Some outlets have called Mkhize’s announcement a slip-up, as the announcement was not made in a press conference, as is the norm. But this is the type of slip up we can’t be mad about. It leaves us feeling hopeful about 2021, now that the first batch of vaccines has hit our shores, and a larger batch is on the horizon.
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