South Africa is granting emergency use approval to AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and will continue reviewing applications from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, the country’s health products regulatory authority (SAHPRA) said in a news conference Wednesday.
The approval was granted under Section 21 Authorisation, which grants emergency use of a health product that is unregistered in South Africa.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that the government expects the first 1 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine to arrive on February 1.
“I am pleased to announce that the flight carrying the first 1 million doses will leave India on Sunday, January 3, 2021, fly via Dubai and land at O.R. Tambo International Airport on Monday, February 1, 2021,” Mkhize told reporters.
Upon arrival in South Africa, the vaccines will undergo a quarantine lasting a minimum of 10 days, in which they will be tested for quality assurance, Mkhize said.
The vaccines will be manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and 1.5 million doses in total will eventually be flown into South Africa to begin immunizing the country’s 1.25 million healthcare workers.
South Africa has been battling an aggressive second wave of Covid-19 infections caused by a new variant of the virus, known as 501Y.V2, which was first discovered in November. With more than 1.4 million recorded cases and 41,000 fatalities to date, South Africa has recorded more infections and deaths than any other country in Africa.