JOHANNESBURG, Jan 31 (Reuters) – South Africa has secured an additional 20 million coronavirus vaccines manufactured by Pfizer, national newspaper The Sunday Times reported on Sunday, citing an interview with the health minister.
Africa’s most advanced economy has been one of the slowest among major emerging market nations to secure enough vaccines for the majority of its population and is due to begin administering first shots next month.
The extra doses would potentially push total supply secured by the continent’s worst-hit country above 40 million. South Africa has recorded more than 1.4 million cases of COVID-19 with close to 44,000 deaths.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told the Sunday Times: “These vaccines are secured and awaiting manufacturers to submit final agreements with details of delivery dates and exact amounts.”
The article did not give further details and the ministry did not immediately responded to questions from Reuters.
South Africa has so far secured around 12 million doses from the COVAX vaccine distribution scheme co-led by the World Health Organization, 12 million from an African Union arrangement, and 9 million from Johnson & Johnson.
Its first batch of 1 million coronavirus vaccine doses is due to arrive on Feb. 1, destined for healthcare workers. They are the AstraZeneca shots, produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII).
A further 500,000 doses is expected from the SII in February, also for health workers. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)
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