A South African Airways (SAA) flight, scheduled to transport the country's next consignment of Covid-19 vaccines, departed on Wednesday night.
The A340 aircraft is expected to return on Saturday, said Louise Brugman, a spokesperson for Matuson & Associates, which is overseeing the embattled airline's business rescue.
"SAA has been approached by the government to assist with the transportation of vaccines," she added.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced in Parliament that 80 000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine were expected to arrive in the country on Saturday. These will be added to the first consignment of 80 000 doses of the same vaccine, which arrived on 16 February.
An SAA plane, which was supposed to fetch the vaccines for SA in Brussels, Belgium, was prevented from departing because it was not compliant with civil aviation regulations at the time, according to Fin24.
The J&J vaccine, used in the Sisonke Programme, provides 57% protection against moderate to severe disease, 85% protection against severe disease and 100% protection against death, based on evidence from clinical trials that included South African participants.
However, new research has indicated that the protection rate may be higher.
As of Wednesday, the total number of healthcare workers vaccinated under the Sisonke Programme was 41 809.