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Minister Zweli Mkhize on the arrival of Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine

2 May 2021

Update on status of delivery of market doses of Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the first batch of Pfizer vaccines (325 260 doses) will land at OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday 2 May 2021 at 23.45 CAT.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) has considered all the security arrangements- from when the vaccine lands at ORTIA, to when it is transported to the vaccination sites. They have engaged all security agencies to ensure all necessary security procedures are in place for the safe delivery of the vaccines and made the necessary arrangements with the Police.

Upon arrival, the entire batch will be transported initially to a central warehouse. Samples will be sent to the National Control Laboratory for quality assurance and, after release, will be distributed to the provinces.

Following this initial delivery of Pfizer, we are expecting approximately the same number of doses, ie 325 260, to arrive on a weekly basis to a total of over 1,3 million doses by the end of May.

Thereafter the vaccine supply will increase to an average of 636 480 doses weekly from 31 May which will see us accumulating close to 4,5 million doses by the end of June.

In regards to Johnson and Johnson, we have received communication that the doses awaiting dispatch in Gqeberha are expected to be released around the middle of May. This is due to a  protracted safety verification process with international regulatory agencies (FDA, EMA and SAHPRA).

This is a precautionary measure following the adverse findings during inspection of  Emergent BioSolutions Bayview facility in the United States of America, one of the manufacturing partners of Johnson and Johnson, which prompted the authorities to extend their assessments of all Johnson and Johnson stock worldwide. These assessments are still underway.

We are confident that the final outcome will be positive and that, provided there are no further disruptions, Johnson and Johnson will be in a position to release the stock from the Aspen plant in Gqeberha by the middle of May. The stock is currently finished and ready for dispatch.

In the meantime, we will continue to vaccinate our health care workers with the remaining early access doses of Johnson and Johnson (through the Sisonke Protocol) and we will proceed to vaccinate with Pfizer. We, therefore, continue to call on all health care workers, including traditional healers, and all citizens 60 years and above to register on the EVDS as we continue to rollout vaccines.

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