South Africa gets 1st batch of Indian COVID vaccine

South Africa gets 1st batch of Indian COVID vaccine

JOHANESBURG: South Africa has received its first consignment of COVID-19 vaccines produced by the Serum Institute in India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, Anadolu Agency reported the country’s president said late Monday.

“The consignment, consisting of one million doses of the Covishield vaccine produced by the Serum Institute in India, arrived at OR Tambo International Airport this afternoon,’’ President Cyril Ramaphosa said in televised address to the nation.

Ramaphosa said the vaccines will be tested at the country’s National Control Laboratory to confirm that their integrity has been maintained during transportation.

“After testing, they will be distributed across the country to thousands of our healthcare workers who every day put their own lives at risk to save others,’’ he said, adding the country must ensure the protection of front line workers first because they fight to protect lives of others.

 “The arrival of these vaccines contains the promise that we can turn the tide on this disease that has caused so much devastation and hardship in our country and across the world,’’ he said.

According to Anadolu Agency, South Africa has the highest number of COVID-19 infections on the continent with 1,453,761 confirmed cases and 44,164 deaths. It is also the 15th most affected country in the world.

The South African leader said he is impressed by the speed and scale at which new vaccines have been developed saying this is unprecedented in human history and represents the monumental progress that humanity can achieve in the face of a common threat.

South Africa was one of the countries where clinical trials were held to assess the drug’s efficacy.

“I want to thank all the South Africans who participated in various vaccines trials on a voluntary basis and commend all the researchers who led these studies,’’ the president said all healthcare workers in both the public and private sectors will be prioritised for vaccination in the first phase.

He said in the second phase of the national vaccine strategy, they will include essential workers, people over 60 years, people with co-morbidities as well as those living in places such as nursing homes and hostels.

“In Phase 3, we will extend the vaccination programme to the rest of the adult population,’’ the president confirmed.