Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has reiterated that Covid-19 vaccines will be safe to administer to people to protect them from the virus.
Mkhize briefed Parliament’s health portfolio committee on Friday.
“The vaccines would have gone through a rigorous testing and analysis that would have proved its level of safety,” Mkhize told MPs.
The Health minister’s briefing comes after the arrival of one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from India on Monday.
His presentation to the committee revealed that another 117 000 doses were expected from Pfizer this month.
The country was expecting a total of nine million doses from Johnson & Johnson, and around 4.2 million from Covax.
Mkhize said government was in the process of contracting major developers to provide vaccines. The Russian and Chinese vaccines are also being considered.
There is, however, a shortfall of around 38 million doses of vaccines, but Mkhize says this shortfall will be made up as and when vaccines become available.
Mkhize said 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been secured. The vaccines had been secured from Pfizer, and authorities were waiting for manufacturers to submit final agreements. These would include the delivery dates and exact amounts.
Mkhize said vaccines won’t be administered to patients if it is proven unsafe.
“There are many variations of conditions. The vaccine shows various efficacies, depending on various conditions. Largely the vaccine we are bringing (in) is safe. For any other individual there well may be certain responses or reactions that will come from the body. On their own, it does not mean the vaccines are unsafe,” Mkhize said.
With just days before the Covid-19 vaccine will be administered to healthcare workers, provincial governments are continuing to present roll-out strategies that are still thin on details.
The vaccine is currently undergoing tests in Bloemfontein before being distributed to provinces. The Health Department had also started the online registration of healthcare workers.
Mkhize said the current issues around distribution will be addressed with provincial health departments.
He has also called on community leaders to help government
“We should not send fear out into the public about our vaccines. Let’s rather send clear messages on the vaccines. If there are any issues around corruption, let’s talk about it,” he said.