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South Africa approves China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use: Health ministry

South Africa has approved China's Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, acting Minister of Health Mamoloko Kubayi said on Saturday (Jul 3), as the country faces a crippling third wave of infections that has paralysed hospitals and brought its death toll to 60,000.

South Africa approves China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine for domestic use: Health ministry

A medical worker holds a dose of the Sinovac vaccine at a district health facility as Indonesia begins mass vaccinations for COVID-19, starting with its healthcare workers, in Jakarta on Jan 14, 2021. (File photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

JOHANNESBURG: South Africa has approved China's Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, acting Minister of Health Mamoloko Kubayi said on Saturday (Jul 3), as the country faces a crippling third wave of infections that has paralysed hospitals and brought its death toll to 60,000.

"I would like to express gratitude to our regulatory authority for their sense of urgency, which included reducing turnaround time to process applications for registration of ... (the) COVID-19 vaccine," Kubayi said in a statement.

The surge in infections in Africa's most industrialised nation has overwhelmed hospitals, especially in the main city of Johannesburg, and left overworked healthcare personnel struggling to find enough beds for critically ill patients.

READ: Jokowi says Sinovac COVID-19 vaccination can begin for those aged 12 to 17 immediately

READ: Amid demand for Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines, some Singapore healthcare firms looking at importing more non-mRNA shots

About 5 per cent of South Africans have been vaccinated - or 3.3 million people out of a population of just under 60 million. It has recorded 2 million COVID-19 cases so far, although low testing rates in rural areas mean that the real figure is certainly higher, health experts say.

"This approval came at the time when the government is implementing an expanded and multipronged vaccination programme to reach as many people as possible, while the infection numbers continue to increase at an alarming rate," the statement said.

After initial doubts owing to a lack of transparency in clinical trial data, Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine is emerging as a powerful tool against the virus. Data from Uruguay released last month showed that it was more than 90 per cent effective in reducing both intensive care admissions and deaths.

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Source: Reuters/kg

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