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80,000 doses of J&J COVID-19 vaccine expected to land in SA on Saturday - Mkhize

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has told members of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that at least 23,000 healthcare workers have so far been inoculated.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gets his J&J COVID-19 vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital on 17 February 2021 Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Another batch of Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccines is expected to land in the country this weekend as South Africa’s mass inoculation programme gathers steam.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has told members of Parliament on Tuesday afternoon that at least 23,000 healthcare workers have so far been inoculated. And that number is expected to rise to 40,000 by Wednesday.

Mkhize was replying to a debate in the National Assembly on the vaccine rollout.

READ: 'I'm happy': Hope emerges in SA with first COVID-19 vaccine jabs

The minister said since vaccinations started last week, South Africa had now joined about 87 countries that had taken the fight against COVID-19 to the next stage.

"We have now vaccinated 23,059 healthcare workers as of 6 pm yesterday [Monday, 22 February 2021]. Beyond that cut-off time, we have vaccinated 8,000 health workers in yesterday’s working hours - and we are on course to complete 40,000 by this Wednesday [23 February 2021].”

READ: Day 1 of SA’s J&J vaccine rollout a huge success – health department

Mkhize said more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were on their way.

“It’s also my pleasure to announce that the next batch of 80,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccines will arrive this Saturday, 27 February [2021]”

The rollout is targeting healthcare workers first as they deal with people infected with COVID and are three to four times more likely to contract the disease than the general population, Mkhize said.

He dismissed opposition claims that the government fumbled the rollout, saying it had responded with agility to the challenges posed by the local COVID variant.

Mkhize has also announced that the doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, which were found not to be very effective against the variant, have now been sold on for use in about 20 African countries, where the variant is not an issue.

WATCH: 'A milestone for South Africans' - President Ramaphosa gets vaccinated

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