SA to receive 80,000 J&J vaccine jabs and then scale up rollout - Gray

Professor Glenda Gray added that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) still had to put its stamp of approval for commercial use on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

In this file photo taken on 17 November 2020 an illustration picture shows vials with COVID-19 vaccine stickers attached and syringes with the logo of US pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Picture: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP.

CAPE TOWN - A thorough management plan is being finalised, ahead of the arrival of a batch of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines.

The country is set to receive an initial consignment of 80,000 vaccines next week to kickstart its phase one inoculation drive.

Professor Glenda Gray, a co-lead investigator for the vaccine's local clinical trial, explains how they plan to do the initial distribution of the shots.

"We will be receiving around 80,000 vaccinations every seven to 14 days and we will immediately deploy those."

Gray, who's also president and CEO of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), stressed that the vaccination process would be scaled up.

READ: J&J vaccine effective against COVID-19 variant - Glenda Gray

"People mustn't think that 80,000 vaccines is a small number. The logistics of doing this and the deployment will test our ability to understand what it means to do mass scale-up."

She said that this was an important step to guide the rollout going forward.

"We'll be able to see where our roadblocks are, we'll be able to see where do we filter and how do we address this, how do we make sure there's a steady flow of vaccines to the site... It's an important kind of phase 1A to the rollout and it is an important testing of our to-do list. We've never done this before in our country."

Gray added that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) still had to put its stamp of approval for commercial use on the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor Gray explained: "We are going to be rolling out this vaccine in the period between when we know it works and the day it gets registered for commercial use in South Africa, so our mandate is to fill the hiatus we find ourselves in because of the AstraZeneca vaccine."

She said that a long waiting period to check the vaccines when it arrives on home soil would not be needed.

"We know what the certificate of analysis is, we know what the potency is and what the shelf-life is, so this is done in international labs which are accepted by the local authorities, so we don't have to redo all of those things, fortunately."

The WHO's scientific advisory group, SAGE, on Wednesday recommended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, even in countries where variants of the coronavirus were detected.

READ: SA halts rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine over efficacy against second variant

South Africa earlier this week slammed the breaks on the rollout of its phase one vaccination plan after a small, local clinical trial yielded poor results for the vaccine's efficacy against mild to moderate forms of the disease.

WATCH: SA's phase 1 COVID-19 vaccination rollout to continue with J&J vaccine

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.