Mkhize warns of COVID-19 vaccine challenges such as theft

Zweli Mkhize warned that there may be challenges in the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines, like freezer malfunctions and vehicle breakdowns.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize addresses a media briefing on 13 July 2020. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Zweli Mkhize warned that there may be challenges in the rolling out of COVID-19 vaccines, like freezer malfunctions and vehicle breakdowns.

Mkhize briefed Parliament's health portfolio committee on Friday.

It comes after the arrival of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday.

WATCH: Touchdown! First COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive in JHB

The Department of Health listed several risks in the vaccine rollout, like possible vaccine theft and malfeasance in the procurement process.

Another risk listed by the department is vaccine hesitancy, which is the refusal of vaccines, resulting in over supply to sites.

The health minister told MPs it's not going to be a smooth process: “We've seen issues in some countries like breakage of vehicles and issues of freezers; these can be serious problems and we're aware that it won't be smooth.”

He said South Africa is also engaging with other vaccine developers like those behind Russia's Sputnik V.

“Our teams are working with all of them.”

Mkhize said they would start administering the first batch to health workers from Thursday after thorough quality checks.

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(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)