South Africa is on track to receive enough Covid-19 vaccines to cover about two-thirds of the population by the end of the year, made up of both Pfizer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson doses.
The country has secured orders for 52.6 million shots, including 31.2 million of the single-dose J&J version, President Cyril Ramaphosa told parliament on Thursday. They are due to be delivered gradually over the rest of the year, although about half won’t arrive until after September, he said.
“The estimated times for the delivery of the vaccines depends on several factors, many of which are beyond our control,” he said.
The schedule is as follows:
- 2Q: 5.9 million Pfizer doses, 3 million J&J
- 3Q: 8.5 million Pfizer, 9.1 million J&J
- 4Q: 7 million Pfizer, 19.1 million J&J
South Africa has been criticised for a slow start in securing orders for Covid-19 vaccines, which were held up in part by negotiations over issues such as indemnity clauses, a way of protecting the drugmakers from legal claims arising from adverse side-effects.
Pharmaceutical companies were also pushing the government to ease back on a campaign for the loosening of vaccine patent protections, a person familiar with the situation said last month. The US lent its support to that proposal this week, increasing the chances that a deal can be reached among World Trade Organisation members.
“It should be noted that negotiations with the manufacturers were protracted as we had to ensure that the terms of the contracts were consistent with our laws and were not detrimental to our national interest,” Ramaphosa said.
South Africa wants to step up the country’s vaccine-manufacturing capability to prepare for future pandemics and that’s why it’s pushing for intellectual-property waivers, the president said.