Johnson & Johnson is the first pharmaceutical company in South Africa to apply for Covid-19 vaccine registration. The vaccine has already been rolled out in the UK and US.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will be reviewing the Johnson & Johnson application as well as other companies.
During his address to the nation on Monday night, President Cyril Ramaphos said 10% of South Africa will have access to the vaccine by early next year.
“As we have said in the past, the only viable defence we will have against Covid-19 will be the vaccine. South Africa has concluded all the necessary processes to ensure its participation in the World Health Organisation’s Covid-19 Global Vaccine Access Facility."
“As part of this facility, it is expected that South Africa will receive initial vaccines to cover 10% of our population in the early part of next year,” said the President.
There have been concerns that African countries will not get equal access to the vaccine. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Naledi Pandor said some rich countries could block developing countries from getting access to the vaccine.
“Vaccine nationalism is a very real threat as it will create supply problems to poorer countries thereby denying their citizens access to life-saving vaccines,” the Minister said.
However, she said the African Union Commission and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are working to make sure developing countries have access to the vaccine.
The Minister has warned South Africans against traveling to countries overseas, as many European countries are facing a second wave of infections.
"Please do be aware that if you do travel, you travel at your own risk to these countries knowing the current circumstances and the uncertainty associated with that. Please ensure that you are familiar with the immigration and health entry requirements of the country you will visit, and South Africa's entry health requirements during the pandemic"
More than 30 000 South Africans who were stranded abroad were repatriated by the department.
“From the time the president announced South Africa’s level 5 lockdown on March 15 to the time when international travel was again allowed under level 1, my department, through our consular services, managed to repatriate just over 30 000 South Africans who were stranded from all corners of the world, using over 350 flights. The number excludes tens of thousands who used our land borders."
However, the minister has warned South Africans that this might be difficult to do again with the second wave of infections.
Minister Pandor has urged South Africans to play their role in fighting the virus.
“Defeating this virus still requires countries to collaborate with each other and to work with multilateral institutions to ensure that all people access the required health and medical interventions, and that they benefit from economic and social measures required for a sustained response to the pandemic,” the minister said.