After months of public pressure to get its Covid-19 vaccine roll-out plan going, key government figures at OR Tambo International Airport were expected to officiate the arrival of the 1.5 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The plane carrying the precious cargo would be arriving via Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from Mumbai, India, where the drugs were manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
[Watch live] President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, receive South Africa’s first consignment of COVID-19 vaccine #VaccineforSouthAfrica https://t.co/AYZsZqZcdF
— @SAgovnews (@SAgovnews) February 1, 2021
According to government’s phased roll-out plan, healthcare workers would be prioritised in the first phase, followed by those with comorbidities and the elderly. The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine regime requires two doses, spaced out over a number of days.
The vaccine was made to be stored and transported at normal refrigerated temperatures of 2°C to 8°C . In these conditions, the doses could last at least six months.
Last week, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize assured South Africans that “all is on track” and that government was working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of the vaccine roll-out programme.
Watch the arrival below, courtesy of the SABC.
According to President Cyril Ramaphosa, the first phase of the roll-out programme will prioritise around 1.2 million front-line health workers.
The arrival of the first consignment at OR Tambo Airport late Monday afternoon marked the start of the vaccine roll-out, which Ramaphosa has described as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in South Africa’s history
Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza were joined at the airport by Mkhize, acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, High Commissioner of the Republic of India Jaideep Sarkar and Dr Morena Makhoana, chief executive officer of Biovac.