The national health department has said it has been given the green light by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to procure the Covid-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SSI).
The department also said it had been recognised as the supplier of the SII vaccine.
In the daily update on Covid-19 statistics on Friday night, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize assured citizens “that all is on track” with the first batch of vaccine doses.
“We previously advised the public that the National Department of Health [NDoH] had directly applied for a Section 21 Authorisation in terms of Sahpra regulations. This is a requirement in order to recognise the NDoH as the supplier of the Serum Institute of India vaccine.
“We are pleased to confirm that Sahpra has granted the approval. We will, in the next coming days, engage with the public in order to give an update on the progress of the first batch of the vaccines that we committed would be received in the first quarter,” Mkhize said.
Earlier, News24 reported it was understood that health officials only recently filed the Section 21 notice for the emergency use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine with the Sahpra.
Mkhize said they had been inundated with offers from private entities selling the vaccine.
“As a department, we have resolved and wish to advise the public that it is critical that any such agent and vaccine authenticity must be verified directly with manufacturers.
“This is the only way, in our view, to guarantee the quality of the vaccines that may be acquired through third parties. Fortunately, as a government, we have direct communication access with the manufacturers. For the protection of our citizens, we have put in place a process to verify any vaccines that are offered through third parties,” Mkhize said.
As of Friday, the country had a cumulative total of 1 392 568 cases and 40 076 deaths. The recovery rate was 86%.
Mkhize also said the country had seen a decline in transmissions in the past week but cautioned that the transmission rate was still high.
“In the past week, we have observed a decline in transmission as evidenced by reduced new cases daily, a steadily decreasing positivity rate (19% today [Friday] from a high of 36% in this wave), and promising evidence of downward deflection of admission numbers,” he said.
“We are hoping that this decline in numbers is going to bring the much-required reprieve to our overwhelmed health facilities, both in the public and private sector. We are closely monitoring this to inform our process of recommending the review of some of the restrictions that are currently in place,” he added.