South Africa is expected to receive about 30 million Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccines, President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced.
Speaking at Aspen Pharmacare manufacturing facility in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape on Monday, Ramaphosa confirmed the facility would produce 220 million vaccines for Africa.
Ramaphosa said the Aspen facility had secured a deal with J&J, which the company signed off on Sunday.
“We anticipate that the number [of vaccine doses] will build to even 400 million and that for South Africa we will have 30 million vaccines,” he said.
The president said production and packaging of the vaccines had already started at the facility and they might be delivered in April.
He also defended the government following criticism of its rollout of the vaccine, saying the government was still within its target and losing a little bit of time did not mean the government was failing.
“What we are focusing on is acquiring vaccines so we can save lives. The slow pace of rollout is given rise to by the challenge of availability of vaccines confronting countries around the world. We have come here to ensure we can speed up the process,” the president said.
We are still in Phase 1 of our vaccine rollout strategy. Government is committed to making all efforts to ensure that vaccines are available for our health workers, and in later phases for our citizens. https://t.co/MDQbunMqa5
— Cyril Ramaphosa ???????? #StaySafe (@CyrilRamaphosa) March 29, 2021
The government will shortly complete the first phase of its vaccination programme involving healthcare workers in the public and private sectors.
More than 230,000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated since the arrival of the first batches of vaccines in February.
Ramphosa further said the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC) was still finalising its decision on lockdown restrictions ahead of the Easter long weekend and a potential third wave of Covid-19 infections.
This is after a number of religious organisations have asked the government to ease some lockdown restrictions on the size of congregations allowed at places of worship.
Meanwhile, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has since approved a Section 21 application for the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.
The 20 million vaccines doses from Pfizer will be delivered from the second quarter of the year and 12 million vaccine doses from the Covax facility.