Vials of undiluted Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.
  • In South Africa you will most likely receive the Covid-19 vaccine created by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, government assumptions show.
  • That means two injections, at least four weeks apart, with a 70% chance of success.
  • The government budget of R30 billion for vaccines is predicated on buying only relatively small numbers of coronavirus vaccine doses from the likes of Pfizer and Moderna.
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The Covid-19 vaccine you are overwhelmingly likely to receive in South Africa – based on current planning – will be from AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the government said on Thursday.

Current budget assumptions include that 70% of all the vaccines bought will come from AstraZeneca, health minister Zweli Mkhize told Parliament.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is sold on a non-profit basis, and is the cheapest mainstream-approved vaccine currently available, but South Africa has yet to actually secure supplies.

The government budget holds that it will pay R54 for each AstraZeneca vaccination.

The mix the government expects will consist of 5% of the total number of vaccine doses required each from Pfizer and Moderna, Mkhize's numbers show. Those are the most expensive on the market at present, and government expects to pay R536 per dose to Moderna, and R299 per dose to Pfizer, which has reportedly offered a special discount.

The remaining 20% of doses are expected to come from Johnson & Johnson, at R153 a piece. Hundreds of thousands of units of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to start rolling out of a factory in Port Elizabeth soon, but though talks are apparently underway, none have been earmarked for use in South Africa yet.

The AstraZeneca shot most South Africans are likely to receive requires a repeat after at least four weeks, and no more than 12 weeks. It is injected into muscle, usually the upper arm.

Initial studies found it to be 70% effective after two shots, compared to the 90% efficacy reported for the more expensive, and trickier to handle, Pfizer vaccine.

Based on the assumed mix of vaccines, the government believes it will spend R30 billion acquiring doses, Mkhize said. Additional costs will include "demand creation" and setting up a "no-fault immunisation compensation scheme"