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)