JOHANNESBURG – South Africa will start releasing Covid-19 vaccines without requiring approval from local regulators, a step expected to be followed by other low- and middle-income countries fighting to inoculate their populations against the coronavirus.
South Africa’s health ministry said in January the country would receive 1 million doses of the vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca PLC by the Serum Institute in India, which has an agreement to produce and distribute the images. A second shipment of 500,000 doses is expected in February. The vaccine requires two doses to achieve its full effect.
Other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and the developing world are likely to emulate South Africa’s decision to bypass local regulators in a bid to speed up the production of photos for at least some of their most at-risk citizens. Some do not have their own national drug approval authorities and are expected to rely on a World Health Organization certificate for the introduction of Covid-1
The footage commissioned from South Africa by India will be made available to healthcare professionals who have borne the brunt of the wave of new Covid-19 cases. Researchers believe the new wave of infections has been exacerbated by a new, possibly more transmissible, variant of the coronavirus found in the country. In December alone, 5,000 health workers tested positive for the disease, placing an additional burden on hospitals that are already struggling.
South Africa, a country of 60 million people, reported 21,832 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, its highest daily number and 392 deaths. Nearly a third of coronavirus tests return positive – an indication that the true number of infections is likely to be much higher – and the South African Medical Research Council said it recorded nearly 7,000 unnecessary deaths during Christmas week, most of which are likely to occur. due to Covid-19.