South Africa has too many Covid-19 vaccines — delays deliveries

South Africa’s slow inoculation campaign has resulted in the country’s health ministry officials asking Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to postpone the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, Reuters reported.

Approximately 35% of South Africans are fully vaccinated, half of the country’s year-end target, resulting in a surplus of Covid-19 vaccines.

Earlier in 2021, the inoculation campaign was slow to start due to insufficient vaccine doses. Now deliveries have been postponed due to oversupply.

South Africa has averaged 106,000 doses a day in the past 15 days, and with 16.8 million vaccine doses, the country has 158 days’ worth of stock.

“We have 158 days’ stock in the country at current use,” Reuters quoted a health ministry spokesperson as saying.

“We have deferred some deliveries,” they added.

The spokesperson did not say when deliveries would resume.

According to Aspen Pharmacare chief executive Stavros Nicolaou, most vaccines intended for South Africa would be distributed to other African countries.

He also indicated that deliveries would be postponed until the first quarter of 2022.

Vaccines packaged at Aspen’s plant — which handles 25 million doses each month — are part of the African Union’s agreement to buy 220 million doses from J&J.

“We remain adaptable to individual country’s vaccine requirements whilst continuing to meet our quarterly commitments as per the South Africa supply agreement,” a Pfizer spokesperson told Reuters.

South Africa’s government has been seeking to bolster the vaccination rate, but vaccine hesitancy and access to vaccination sites are significant factors slowing the country’s vaccine programme.

To boost the administration of vaccines, the government has launched pop-up vaccination sites and recently opened inoculations to children aged 12 to 17.

It is also offering R100 grocery vouchers for people 50 years and older who get their first shot.

Now read: Covid-19 cases climbing in South Africa

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