South Africa's health minister says the country's agreement with Johnson & Johnson for 11 million COVID-19 vaccine doses includes an option for an extra 20 million doses depending on the availability of stock, as reported in London South East.
The country launched its vaccination campaign last month with Johnson & Johnson's single-dose vaccine after suspending plans to administer AstraZeneca's double-dose candidate, when a small trial showed it provided minimal protection against mild-to-moderate illness from the dominant local SARS-CoV-2 variant.
The Johnson & Johnson shot is being given to up to 500,000 healthcare workers in a research study to further evaluate it in the field before a larger-scale rollout is expected to start in the second quarter.
Local pharmaceutical company Aspen will be manufacturing Johnson & Johnson doses under licence.
Health minister Zweli Mkhize added that the vaccine is cost-effective for reasons including that it is effective against the local B.1.351/501Y.V2 variant first identified in South Africa, it is stored at fridge temperature and it is a single-dose vaccine.
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