JOHANNESBURG, 6 January 2021 – The first doses of COVID-19 vaccines are expected to arrive South Africa by the end of the first quarter of 2021.
The doses are being purchased through COVAX, the global vaccine-sharing initiative set up by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The aim of COVAX is to guarantee access to vaccines at the most affordable prices by poor countries.
The initiative was set up amidst fears that rich countries would out-bid or snap up all the supply available in the global market.
South African President Cypril Ramaphosa confirmed that his country made an initial payment to COVAX of 283 million rand ($19.3 million) to secure its first batch of vaccine doses.
South Africa’s health minister Zweli Mkhize has also confirmed that the country is in talks with private pharmaceutical companies in the hope of obtaining additional doses of vaccines in February 2021.
The pressure has grown on the South African government to speed up the setting up of an inoculation program.
The recent discovery of a new, faster-spreading variant of the virus in South Africa has added to that pressure.
At more than 1.1 million COVID-19 cases, South Africa has recorded the highest number of cases of any African country so far.