Has South Africa Returned 1 Million Doses of Astrazeneca Vaccine?

This tweet dated February 16 2021 claims that South Africa has returned a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to its manufacturer.

(Use translation services)

In addition, the tweet claims that South Africa will certify Sputnik V in the country this week.


As governments work around containing the spread of COVID-19, a new strain of the virus experienced in South Africa posed a challenge towards the efficiency of this vaccine.

South Africa received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on 1st February 2021. However, vaccinations were halted after preliminary studies showed the Oxford AstraZeneca’s vaccine offered minimal protection against mild cases of the new South African variant.

South African frontline health workers alongside South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa and the minister of health Zweli Mkhize received their first shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as part of an observational study on 17th February 2021. The government secured 9 million doses of the vaccine. This single-dose vaccine by Johnson & Johnson is the first to be used outside clinical trials and has not yet been approved for general use. Clinical studies show that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proved 57% efficiency against the 501Y.V2 dominant variant.


Speaking during the state of national address, health minister Zweli Mkhize responded to misinformation surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine. In his statement, he said, “We want to refute categorically the speculation in the media that we have returned the stock to India. We have not.”

He also added that they are engaging suppliers and manufacturers of the vaccine through different inter-related channels and among them is Sputnik V who had submitted documents to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) for approval.

The minister confirmed that they would instead offer the vaccine to the AU for countries that showed interest in the vaccines such as Malawi. This way, there will be no wasteful expenditures.


Claims that South Africa has returned the AstraZeneca vaccines are FALSE.

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Nyakerario Omari

Nyakerario J. Omari is a Kenyan writer and journalist with a passion for in-depth stories told through documentaries. She has an interest in reporting matters concerning health, crime and human rights.