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February 02nd 2021

South Africa receives first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines

South Africa yesterday received their first shipment of 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Serum Institute of India. 

The life changing vaccine arrived in Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport yesterday evening and were greeted by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. The original shipment will be followed by an additional 500,000 doses expected to arrive next month.

The AstraZeneca vaccine will prioritised to inoculate South Africa’s front line Health workers, which will open the vaccine roll out campaign. Although the vaccines have been transported, they will not be administered to healthcare workers until mid-February, after the vaccines have been approved and tested by the South African drug regulator authorities, The South African Health Products Authority.

Director of the Africa Health Research Institute, Professor Williem Hanekom stated “The arrival of the first vaccines is excellent news and a step in the right direction for South Africa.” South Africa has been dominated recently with the transmission of new variant, which scientist believe originated in the country, however Hanekom said that initial trails of the AstraZeneca vaccine indicates that all various inoculations will still offer good protection against the virus.

“So it doesn’t matter the level of efficacy, the vaccines all seem to work pretty well against severe disease and death, even against this new variant, it appears. And that is very good news,” Hanekom said.

The South African government plans to inoculate around 40 million people, which represents 67% of the countries population, by the end of the year.

South Africa’s inoculation efforts received a significant boost recently as the government was able to acquire 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The doses are expected to arrive in second quarter of the year, the South African government stated recently to the associated press.

In the up coming months, South Africa is expecting to receive 12 million vaccine doses from the international COVAX facility, an additional 9 million from the Johnson and Johnson vaccine (once approved), and a estimated 20 million doses from the African Unions vaccine acquisition task team. Although these vaccines are expected to arrive in the next 12 months, an additional 20 million vaccines will need to be sourced in the near future to meet the governments inoculation targets.

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Source: ABC News, February 2021

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