South Africa will begin administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine to health workers on Wednesday, following the arrival of a first consignment of the shots.
“Health teams worked overnight to distribute the vaccines to most parts throughout the country,” South African Medical Research Council Chief Executive Officer Glenda Gray said in an interview with broadcaster SAfm. “In Cape Town, vaccination will start at 12 p.m.”
South Africa received an unspecified number of the J&J shots on Tuesday night and is in talks to procure an additional 20 million doses.
The process of vaccinating 40 million people, in order to achieve herd immunity in a population of 60 million, is expected to take 12 to 18 months, said Stavros Nicolaou, head of the health-work unit at lobbying group Business for South Africa.
“Phase one is critically important,” Nicolaou, who also heads strategic trade at Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd., said in an interview with radio 702 on Wednesday. “We need to vaccinate 1.3 million health workers before we get to the third wave.”
South Africa has recorded more than 1.49 million coronavirus cases, the most on the continent. A total of 48 313 people have succumbed to the disease, the Health Ministry said Tuesday.