South Africa sells AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to AU member states

SENFTENBERG, GERMANY - MARCH 03: A nurse holds a vile of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19 during the inoculation of patients at a private medical practice as part of a pilot project in the state of Brandenburg during the coronavirus pandemic on March 03, 2021 in Senftenberg, Germany. Several German states are allowing vaccinations against COVID-19 to begin in a limited number of private medical practices with the aim of expanding venues that offer the vaccines beyond the current mass vaccination centers. While Germany's vaccination rollout has been hampered by less than anticipated shipments of vaccine, the volume of shipments has begun increasing, leading to higher weekly numbers of vaccinations. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
A nurse holds a vile of the AstraZeneca vaccine against COVID-19. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

South Africa concluded the sale of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines it had acquired but did not use, to other African Union (AU) member states, the ministry of health said on Sunday.

The government suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout program last month after a study by the Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg pointed to a “limited” efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab against the South African variant of COVID-19.

At the time, South Africa had received one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India. Delivery of another 500,000 was pending.

According to the ministry, it had in the past weeks worked to ensure that all member states identified by the AU vaccines acquisition teams as recipients of the vaccines were compliant and had obtained all regulatory approvals, permits and licences to roll out the vaccines in their respective countries.

“The minister can confirm that the full purchase amount was received by the department on Monday last week,” it said in a statement.

“The first batch of vaccines that is being delivered will benefit 9 member states and the balance will be collected this week to be delivered to 5 other member states.”

The statement made no mention of prices and did not name the countries that had purchased the vaccines.

After pausing the roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine, South Africa started inoculating healthcare workers with Johnson & Johnson shots in a research study.

South Africa has registered 1.5 million coronavirus cases including 52,000 fatalities.

However recently the number of new cases has dropped significantly and last month Ramaphosa announced that the second wave of the virus had passed.

The country hopes to immunize two-thirds of the population, though so far only 183,000 doses have been administered.

(With input from agencies)