The first 1 million doses will be delivered later this month from the Serum Institute of India, followed by an additional 500,000 doses in February, Health Minister Zwelini Mkhize announced Thursday.
The ministry added in a statement that it was working with the country's health regulator SAHPRA to ensure there were no delays with the rollout of the vaccines.
The vaccine was acquired by the national health department while the fiscus would "carry the burden" of procuring them. "As part of expediting the regulatory process, SAHPRA is applying reliance on that regulatory work, " he said.
"Regrettably, we report 441 new COVID-19 related deaths: Eastern Cape 70, Free State 23, Gauteng 75, Kwa-Zulu Natal 132, Limpopo 11, Mpumalanga 7, Northern Cape 4 and Western Cape 119 which brings the total to 31 809 deaths", says Mkhize. In the end, Mkhize said, the nation hopes to vaccinate about 40 million people within the year, about 67 percent of the population.
At that briefing he also announced a three-phase vaccine rollout strategy, in which phase one would prioritise frontline healthcare workers, phase two would target 16 million people who included essential service workers, people with comorbidities and the elderly, while phase three would focus on a further 22 million people.
"For countries, 92 countries, that are less able to actually purchase these vaccines on their own from their own domestic funds, there are donor funds that have been provided", she said. Most makers of approved or promising Covid-19 vaccines have already sold all doses due to be manufactured this year to governments in rich countries.
Health workers have voiced concern that authorities have not acted fast enough to secure enough vaccines.
"That is the kind of result you get when you go into negotiations with a begging bowl".
She said the local government did not set a ceiling on the budget for vaccines since it will also negotiate for more supply from other pharmaceuticals.
Minster for Health Stephen Donnelly said on Wednesday that Ireland has ordered 875,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and that "the logistics are being finalised".