South Africa has obtained 20 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine, the Ministry of Health said on Sunday.
Africa’s worst virus – infested country has yet to start vaccinating its population against Covid-19, and it has voiced criticism over slow procurement and lack of strategy.
A first consignment of AstraZeneca / Oxford samples manufactured in India will arrive on Monday, and the injections are expected to start two weeks later.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the Sunday Times newspaper that 20 million extra vaccines had been ordered from US drugmaker Pfizer.
“These vaccines are being secured and are awaiting manufacturers to submit final agreements detailing delivery dates and exact quantities,” Mkhize, quoted in an article on Sunday, said.
Health Ministry spokesperson Lwazi Manzi later confirmed the information via WhatsApp.
The new Pfizer order will complement 12 million vaccine doses through the WHO-backed Covax facility, nine million Johnson & Johnson shots and 1.5 million AstraZeneca / Oxford vaccines, bringing the total insured supply so far to more than 40 million .
Further awards from the African Union (AU) have yet to be announced, Manzi said.
By the end of the year, South Africa aims to vaccinate 67 percent of the population, or 40 million people.
Some vaccines are supplied by Covax and the AU, while others are purchased directly from suppliers.
“We are pretty comfortable that what we paid for, what we signed up for and what we are negotiating about will cover the numbers we want to vaccinate,” Mkhize assured.