South Africa did not return AstraZeneca vaccines to India, says country's health minister

Written By: Kalden Ongmu WION
Johannesburg, South Africa Published: Feb 16, 2021, 07:11 PM(IST)

A test tube labeled with the vaccine is seen in front of AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, September 9, 2020 Photograph:( Reuters )

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South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday clarified that the country has not returned the AstraZeneca vaccines to the Serum Institute of India (SII)

South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize on Tuesday clarified that the country has not returned the AstraZeneca vaccines to the Serum Institute of India (SII).

“I would like to clarify a few media reports that said we have returned the vaccines to India. We have not returned the Astra Zeneca vaccines to India,” Mkhize said at the parliament during the state of the nation address debate. 

''The AstraZeneca doses we purchased have been offered to the African Union platform, of which we are part of, and the AU will distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock'', the minister said. 

He reiterated, “I also wish to once again put it on record that the vaccines have not expired and that the expiry date of April 31 was established through our quality control processes - a wrong impression was created that the vaccines have expired - this is simply not true.” 

Mkhize said that South Africa has managed to successfully secure 9 million doses of the Johnson&Johnson vaccine, with the delivery of the first batch of 80,000 on course and the vaccination due to begin this week.

An additional 500,000 doses are expected to arrive over the next four weeks, supplemented by another 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine that is expected to be received at the end of March 2021, he added. 

"As  [the] government we are actively engaging manufacturers and suppliers of the COVID-19 vaccines through different but interrelated channels'', Mkhize said.

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