Breaking News – First Covid-19 vaccines arrive in South Africa

Covid-19 vaccine arrives in South Africa
Vaccine arrives from India on board an Emirates Airlines flight. Image:

The vital first million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have arrived in South Africa and been offloaded at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo Airport.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, were on hand to receive the consignment in pouring rain.

The first shipment of one million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday.

Also on hand were Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize and the Indian High Commissioner, India, Jaideep Sarkar,  along with Biovac CEO Dr Morena Makhoana. His company is partnering with government to establish a local vaccine manufacturing capability.

Vaccine rollout

The first consignment marks the start of the vaccine rollout which is described as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in South Africa’s history.

“The scale of delivery is unprecedented in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time. The aim of the vaccination programme is to achieve immunity across the population,” the Presidency announced in a statement.

The first phase of the rollout programme will prioritise around 1.2 million frontline health workers.

Phase 2 will prioritise essential workers including teachers, police, municipal workers and other frontline personnel.

People in institutions like old age homes, shelters and prisons, people over 60 years of age and adults with co-morbidities, will also be prioritised in phase 2, with a total number of around 16 million people intended to be reached.

With increased manufacturer supplies, government will in phase 3 vaccinate the remaining adult population of approximately 22.5 million people, and will then have reached around 40 million South Africans, which is considered to approximate herd immunity.

Monday’s proceedings will be brief, with dignitaries witnessing airline, airport, health, customs and security personnel perform their duties of ensuring that the vaccine consignment is “cleared and securely transported to its cold-room destination”.

“Family Meeting” planned later

Ramaphosa is set to address South Africans in a televised crossing at 20h00 on Monday 1 February according to information released by government earlier.  The address follows meetings in recent days of the National Coronavirus Command Council (NCCC), the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) and Cabinet.

The President’s address will be broadcast and streamed on a range of platforms that are accessible to South Africans and international audiences.  There have been reports that the NCCC is considering easing some of the lockdown restrictions, including a possible unbanning of alcohol sales.

– Health-e News with


Note: This story will be updated through the evening of the 1 February as new information comes to hand.


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