South Africa: State Expresses Wish for February Rollout of Vaccines, Will Prioritise Healthcare Workers

Infographic detailing the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines (file photo).

Negotiations with coronavirus vaccine manufacturers are at an advanced stage, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, who announced a vaccine rollout strategy on Sunday amid criticism that the state had failed to act. Details, however, were still scant.

The state hopes to conclude negotiations with coronavirus vaccine suppliers and begin vaccinating frontline healthcare workers in February, according to a rollout strategy announced by Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Sunday evening.

South Africa expected to start receiving vaccine supplies to cover 10% of the population through the Covax initiative by the beginning of the second quarter of 2021, but Mkhize said government departments were working urgently to secure vaccines through bilateral deals with manufacturers.

"In fact, we are targeting February. Although all of that is going to depend very much on the success of the current bilateral negotiations that we're having with various companies," said the minister in a virtual press briefing.

He said the target date was "really more our wish" and no deals had been reached to deliver vaccines by February, but the government was "fighting" to secure supplies before the second quarter of the year.

Under the strategy, a vaccine will be administered in three phases, starting with...

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