South Africa

VACCINATION Newsflash

Week five: Aspen confirms 300,000 Johnson and Johnson jabs for SA teachers

Meadowlands elders vaccinate at Zone 10 Community Hall Vaccination Site on June 11, 2021 in Soweto, South Africa. The health department launched phase two of the vaccination rollout which aims to vaccinate citizens over 60. (Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

The fifth week of South Africa’s national Covid-19 vaccine roll-out began with an assurance from Aspen Pharmacare that Johnson & Johnson will ‘within days’ provide the country with 300,000 vaccine doses for South African teachers.

Aspen Pharmacare was “extremely disappointed” to hear that some batches of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine mixed and finished at its Gqeberha site would not be released and used in South Africa’s national Covid-19 vaccination programme. It said these doses will have to be “destroyed”.

However, together with Johnson & Johnson, it has committed to substituting this loss.

Johnson and Johnson will “within days” provide the country with 300,000 vaccine doses “for South African teachers”, Aspen said in a statement. Johnson & Johnson will also deliver “substantial quantities” of finished vaccines to South Africa “to replace the lost stock thereby ensuring the momentum in the South African vaccine initiative is maintained”.

Aspen will “within a week” release Johnson & Johnson doses manufactured from ingredients not impacted by the contamination at the plant in the US. In addition, it has doses of the vaccine in production which will become available in July. 

Aspen said it would elaborate on these quantities at a later stage.

Over the weekend the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority announced that batches of Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines from Aspen would not be released from Pharmacare’s Gqeberha plant. This comes after it reviewed data from the US Food and Drug Administration and concluded that the Gqeberha plant had received batches of contaminated ingredients from the US.

However, the US Food and Drug Administration has cleared 300,000 doses of the vaccine to be shipped to South Africa. Read the report by Estelle Ellis.

On Monday 14 June, the latest vaccination statistics available were for midnight Saturday 12 June. More than 3.5-million people had registered by then and 1.3-million Pfizer doses had been administered. 

The provincial breakdown is as follows:

  • Eastern Cape: 114,506
  • Free State: 70,150
  • Gauteng: 323,321
  • KwaZulu-Natal: 332,217
  • Limpopo: 143,586
  • Mpumalanga: 48,757
  • North West: 65,515
  • Northern Cape: 12,263
  • Western Cape: 183,334

More than 4,000 people had been vaccinated between midnight on Friday 11 June and midnight on Saturday 12 June.

Meanwhile, Discovery stated its confidence that over 60s will be vaccinated by August 2021. It said 5.7-million Pfizer doses would be delivered by the end of June and more deliveries are scheduled for July. 

“In addition, in order to honour their contract with SA, J&J will undoubtedly source additional stock, to make good on the scheduled deliveries. We await confirmation on the timelines for delivery of these doses. 

“In the interim, a special batch of approximately 300,000 J&J doses has been cleared for shipment to SA. These doses will enable the vaccination of educators, to ensure that basic education in schools can continue without placing teachers at undue risk,” it said.

Discovery has five sites currently and plans another three for the coming months. It aims to vaccinate 40,000 people a day across these sites.

Its vaccination site at its head office in Johannesburg is the largest national private sector site and contributes 15% of all Gauteng vaccinations to date. This site alone contributes 12% of the private sector vaccinations nationally. Plans are in place to expand this site’s capacity by 50%.

In addition, the Discovery Vaccination Portal is integrated with the government’s Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS). Discovery members can register on this portal and the registration will automatically be captured on the EVDS. It said that registration for members in younger cohorts will open in the coming weeks and “slightly prior” to opening on the EVDS.

The North West has started the second week of its door-to-door registration campaign in the rural districts of the province. Last week, outreach teams vaccinated over 1,000 people across five rural districts. There are now 15 sites across the province and 84,921 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. 

Meanwhile, the Western Cape has said it had to lower this week’s vaccination target from 120,000 to 70,000 because it received fewer doses than expected from the national government. Nevertheless, it will open another seven sites this week. DM/MC.

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