Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has warned of a tighter lockdown as concerns mount over the size and acceleration of the third wave of Covid-19 in South Africa, the Sunday opening hours reports.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the government was particularly concerned about Gauteng, which has seen a rapid increase in the number of cases and now faces potential problems with hospital bed capacity.
âThe system is showing signs of pressure in terms of numbers, with Gauteng reporting the most numbers,â she said. “Interventions cannot speak to Gauteng just because we have to make sure we are protecting the other provinces.”
The warning comes after the country’s vaccination efforts were hit hard on Friday when the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that large numbers of Johnson & Johnson vaccines were contaminated.
The decision means that up to two million J&J vaccines stored by Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha may need to be thrown away.
Kubayi-Ngubane said the decision had set back South Africa‘s efforts âa bitâ. She added that South Africa was not currently facing a vaccine shortage, but could run into problems in the months to come.
“We anticipate that once we open (phase) 2B, when those over 40 are eligible for vaccination from the beginning of July, we will definitely be under pressure and we want to be ready for it.”
âPeople ask about Sputnik and Sinovac. These are some of the things that we are looking at and as we get answers, we will provide and announce on this. “
The FDA said on Friday that some lots of the J&J version were unsuitable for use, while others are still under review. Two lots have been approved, although it is not clear where they are heading or how much that covers.
South Africa relies heavily on the J&J vaccine to meet its goal of inoculating two-thirds of its 60 million people this year, after ordering more than 31 million single-dose vaccines, Bloomberg reported.
Aspen Pharmacare, Africa’s largest drug maker, has a contract to fill and package doses at a factory in the coastal town of Gqebherha – until recently known as Port Elizabeth.
“Vaccines awaiting distribution from the Gqebherha plant require further evaluation by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority,” the country’s health ministry said in a statement.
This will determine “if they are suitable for use in South Africa.” There is now a real possibility that they are not, but it is up to the regulator to decide, âhe said.
Read: Delivery of J&J vaccine to South Africa in limbo after US decision