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South Africa approves China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine - health ministry

Updated: 2021-07-07 14:49
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A health worker holds a syringe and a vial of the Sinovac coronavirus disease vaccine at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, March 17, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has approved China's Sinovac vaccine against COVID-19, the acting health minister said on Saturday, 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," Mamoloko 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.

Just over 5 percent of South Africans have been vaccinated -- or 3.3 million people out of a population of just less than 60 million. It has recorded 2 million cases so far, although low testing rates in rural areas mean the real figure is probably higher, health experts say.

Sinovac Biotech's COVID-19 vaccine is emerging as a powerful tool against the virus. Data from Uruguay released last month showed it was over 90 percent effective in reducing both intensive care admissions and deaths.

A statement from the Chinese embassy in South Africa said 2.5 million vaccines had been approved for delivery.


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