South Africa is offering its AstraZeneca vaccines to fellow African countries: Mkhize

Ruben Fields
February 17, 2021

Responding in parliament on Tuesday (16 February), Mkhize said that President Cyril Ramaphosa will announce the date and time of the first vaccinations in the coming days. The first phase of South Africa's campaign is to vaccinate the country's 1.25 million health care workers.

The government is also examining some "guidance" they have received regarding increasing the gap between the two doses of Covishield vaccine which is presently being followed up at four to six weeks interval.

Inoculation will begin with healthcare workers as part of an implementation study.

"Firstly, it is without dispute that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine has a 57% efficacy against the 501Y.V2 variant and is fully protective against serious illness or death".

A CT resident is being treated in New York City after being diagnosed with the South African strain of COVID-19. The continent's hardest-hit country by the pandemic had acquired a million doses of Covishield, a copy of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, and was set to receive an additional 500,000.

AstraZeneca has said its vaccine appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant, based on data from a study by South Africa's University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University.

"The speculation in the media that we have returned the stock to India, we have not".

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He adds that they have secured enough doses to vaccinate all the people who will need to be vaccinated in South Africa.

South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million cases of COVID-19, including more than 47,000 deaths, which is 41% of the confirmed cases in Africa's 54 countries, representing 1.3 billion people.

"The best defense against a rapid rise in cases from variants of concern is to prevent the spread of COVID", the statement said.

Tulio de Oliveira, a South Africa-based professor of virology who helped identify the new variant, was optimistic the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine would prove a success in the country.

"Kerala (61,550) and Maharashtra (37,383) continue to top the list of States with most active cases and we are closely monitoring the situation here", said Mr. Bhushan.

"The doses are going to be shared with countries on the continent ... via the AU", Pillay told Reuters, adding that the government would look to recover money spent on the AstraZeneca vaccine but was still finalizing how to do that.

On Tuesday, the deputy health minister denied reports that the government has asked the manufacturer to take back all 1 million doses. More vaccines are expected from Russia, Britain and India.

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