'We're not sleeping on the job': Mkhize defends govt's COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize defended government’s handling of the country's much-criticised COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

FILE: Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize during a walkabout at the Dora Ngiza Hospital in Port Elizabeth on 23 July 2020. Picture: @DrZweliMkhize/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said that he and other officials were are not "sleeping on the job".

He defended government’s handling of the country's much-criticised COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Mkhize has given Parliament's Health portfolio committee an update on vaccine procurement and other issues.

Following his briefing on Tuesday night, Mkhize had to face MPs to give another update on the COVID-19 response, specifically the halting in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in the Sisonke implementation plan.

READ: Zweli Mkhize: SA to temporarily suspend rollout of J&J vaccine

He said that government had already paid for 11 million doses.

"The Department of Health has procured 31 million vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. An initial agreement for 11 million was signed and the initial purchase price paid."

Mkhize added that the nature of the non-disclosure agreements with manufacturers made it seem like his department was lax.

"I can also assure you that we have not been sleeping on the job. The fact that we previously did not disclose before Parliament the blow-by-blow details of the intense negotiations is because we’re prioritising the closing of those agreements in order to secure vaccines we require for us to reach population immunity."

He reiterated that the country was expecting 31 million vaccine doses from Johnson & Johnson despite the suspension of the rollout to healthcare workers.

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