JOHANNESBURG, Nov 24 (Reuters) - South Africa has asked
Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer to delay delivery
of COVID-19 vaccines because it now has too much stock, health
ministry officials said, as vaccine hesitancy slows an
About 35% of adult South Africans are fully vaccinated,
higher than in most other African nations, but half the
government's year-end target. It has averaged 106,000 doses a
day in the past 15 days in a nation of 60 million people.
Earlier this year the programme was slowed by insufficient
doses. Now deliveries have been delayed due to oversupply.
Across Africa, vaccination rates are lower than much of the
rest of the world, with many countries struggling to secure
enough doses. But some countries are now seeing rising supplies
while vaccine campaigns are not gathering pace, such as Kenya.
Nicholas Crisp, deputy director-general of the Health
Department, told Reuters that South Africa had 16.8 million
doses in stock and said deliveries had been deferred.
"We have 158 days' stock in the country at current use," a
spokesman for the Health Ministry said. "We have deferred some
They did not say when deliveries would now take place.
Stavros Nicolaou, a senior executive of Aspen Pharmacare
, which is packaging 25 million doses a month of J&J
vaccines in South Africa, said most of the vaccines bound for
South Africa would now go to the rest of the continent.
Nicolaou, who is also chairman of public health at business
lobby Business for South Africa (B4SA), said deliveries would
likely be deferred until the first quarter of next year.
Vaccines packaged at Aspen's plant are part of the African
Union's agreement to buy 220 million doses from J&J.
The AU and J&J did not respond to emailed requests for
A Pfizer spokesperson said: "We remain adaptable to
individual country's vaccine requirements whilst continuing to
meet our quarterly commitments as per the South Africa supply
South Africa's government has been seeking to boost the rate
of daily administered doses.
"There is a fair amount of apathy and hesitancy," said
Shabir Madhi, who led the clinical study for the AstraZeneca
COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa.
To ramp up vaccinations, the government has launched pop-up
vaccination centres and sought help from community leaders. It
has also opened inoculations to children aged 12 to 17.
In Kenya, the Health Ministry said on Sunday vaccinations
were moving too slowly among some parts of the population. Its
statement did not mention any plan to delay any deliveries.
"We are ... concerned that only 18% of the elderly
population is fully vaccinated and that vaccine uptake has
generally slowed down in several counties following the lifting
of the curfew last month," Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said.
(Reporting by Promit Mukherjee; Additional reporting by Maggie
Fick; Editing by Josephine Mason and Edmund Blair)