The plane carrying South Africa’s first batch of Covid-19 vaccines will arrive in the country on February 1, health minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize said Wednesday night.
Mkhize said the vaccines – from the Serum Institute of India – will leave on January 31 and arrive the following day, at a time that has not yet been confirmed.
After this, he said, various processes will be done, which would take 10-14 days, after which “we will be ready to distribute to all provinces”.
He said that this was the first step in achieving herd, or population, immunity, which he said would ideally be achieved before the end of the year.
Getting the first batch of vaccines in less than a year since the first case “is a massive achievement of unprecedented proportions,” Mkhize added.
South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths on the African continent, with more than 1.4 million cases and over 41,000 deaths to date.
Mkhize said that after the 1 million doses arrive at the OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg they would be subject to technical processes including quality assurance over a minimum of 10 days and a maximum of 14 days.
After that, they can be distributed to all provinces, Mkhize added.
South Africa expects to receive a further 500,000 doses from the SII in February, also for its healthcare workers.
Later in the year, it stands to receive around 12 million doses from the COVAX global vaccine distribution scheme, co-led by the World Health Organization, another 12 million from an African Union arrangement, and 9 million from Johnson & Johnson. – Additional reporting by Reuters.