The South African government would resume use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine soon despite a recent halt to using the single-dose jab due to massive contamination at a US factory, President Cyril Ramaphosa has said.Pretoria last month had to throw away two million doses of the 31 million US-made vaccines it had secured from Johnson & Johnson after discovering that the vaccines were contaminated at its American factory in Baltimore before being shipped to South Africa.
Speaking at the opening session of the virtual Qatar Economic Forum on Monday evening, Ramaphosa said his country would go ahead with its vaccination programme using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“As it is now, it (the contamination issue) is affecting [rollout] negatively. We were supposed to have received a number of vaccines but this contamination has delayed that,” Ramaphosa said.
He added: “But we are rather pleased that Johnson & Johnson has agreed that they will replace those two million vaccines that we would have had, those that had to be destroyed.”
The South African leader said he hoped that his government’s vaccination programme “will get back on stream and hopefully it will move a lot faster.”
In the interim period, South Africa has been using another US-made drug, Pfizer, which is a double-dose vaccine, to vaccinate 40 million people in order to reach a herd immunity among the country’s 59 million inhabitants who are undergoing a third wave of the Cofid-19 pandemic.
In spite of the setback in the rollout programme, Ramaphosa said the vaccination exercise would soon catch up with the vaccination of 250,000 people daily from the current 100,000 to 150,000 jabs a day.