Updated: March 3, 2021
South Africa will receive the first consignment of COVID-19 vaccine on Monday, the presidency said in a statement on Sunday, as the country battles a more resistant strain of the virus.
“President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccines, will tomorrow, 01 February 2021, receive South Africa’s first consignment of COVID-19 vaccine,” the presidency said. “The President and Deputy President will be joined by Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize, Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, High Commissioner of the Republic of India His Excellency Jaideep Sarkar and Dr Morena Makhoana, Chief Executive Officer of Biovac.”
The government said Biovac, a bio-pharmaceutical company that was formed in 2003 in a partnership between government and private investors to establish local vaccine manufacturing capability, will play an important role in the quality assurance, warehousing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.
It said High Commissioner Sarkar will represent India as the country of origin of the first vaccine to be rolled out in South Africa, adding that the Serum Institute of India has been licensed to produce a vaccine that has been developed by the multinational pharmaceutical and bio pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, in collaboration with the University of Oxford.
The arrival of the first consignment at OR Tambo International Airport marks the start of the vaccine rollout which President Ramaphosa has described as the largest and most complex logistical vaccine undertaking in South Africa’s country’s history.
The scale of delivery is unprecedented in terms of the number of people who have to be reached within a short space of time.
“The aim of the vaccination program is to achieve immunity across the population. The first phase of this rollout program will prioritise around 1.2 million frontline health workers,” the presidency said. “Government is coordinating the vaccine program through the committee chaired by Deputy President, which is focused on procurement, distribution, actual vaccination, monitoring, communication and mobilization.”
Tomorrow’s arrival event will be brief, with dignitaries witnessing airline, airport, health, customs and security personnel perform their duties of ensuring that the vaccine consignment is cleared and securely transported to its cold-room destination.
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