To:       Editors and Health Journalists

Issued by:         National Department of Health

Date:    05 January 2021


News24 article is misleading and completely false


The National Department of Health has noted with concern an article  published by News24 on January 6, 2021, titled: ‘A cancelled meeting, delays and secrecy: Inside SA’s efforts to procure COVID-19 vaccine doses’.

In the article, it is stated that officials from the National Department of Health cancelled at least one meeting with Johnson&Johnson after the company had initiated discussions around its COVID-19 vaccine.

This is completely false.

The National Department of Health responded to a meeting request by Johnson&Johnson less than an hour after it was received and a meeting was thereafter set within that same week. The Departmental officials have been meeting Johnson & Johnson regularly since the first meeting.

The article quotes a mysterious “insider” with knowledge of the initial meeting between Johnson&Johnson and officials from the National Department of Health, who said the company was allegedly “disappointed” with the level of discussion and questions asked by health officials.

The attendees were in agreement that the meeting was cordial and several meetings followed to finalise terms of an agreement between both parties.

The Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccines is, and has always been, encouraged by Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine candidate and its potential applications in a South African context. Negotiations between both parties are now at an advanced stage, and developments will be announced soon.

Publishing inaccurate information only adds to growing public anxiety around increasing COVID-19 cases and vaccine supplies. We urge the news media to verify their sources and the information they provide so as to not further contribute, knowingly or unknowingly, to the spread of COVID-19 misinformation.



 For more information:

 Mr Popo Maja

072 585 3219/082-373-1169