JOHANNESBURG, 5 February 2021 – The South African government has said it has secured enough vaccines to inoculate at least 26 million of its citizens.

Health Minister Zwei Mkhize confirmed that the country this week received its first one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII).

South African Health Minister Zwei Mkhize - Photo eNCA

South African Health Minister Zwei Mkhize – Photo eNCA

South African authorities have said they are expecting 500,000 more doses from SII in the coming weeks.

Mkhize had earlier confirmed that South Africa expects to receive a further 12 million doses via the COVAX facility along with 20 million from Pfizer and nine million from Johnson & Johnson.

The health minister said he expects inoculation to start soon, stopping short of providing a precise date.

Students having their Temperatures Taken in South Africa - Pboto Quartz

Students having their Temperatures Taken in South Africa – Pboto Quartz

During a briefing to parliament, Mkhize explained that the first phase of the country’s inoculation program will target healthcare workers and is expected to be completed in about three months.

South Africa’s aim is to vaccinate 40 million or two-third of its inhabitants.

Public health experts estimate that 40 million vaccinated South Africans will allow the country to reach so-called herd immunity.

The country is the hardest-hit on the continent by the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 1.4 million cases and more than 45,000 deaths.

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