The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) says it has received its first application to register a COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson and Johnson.
The US firm’s vaccine candidate is one of at least four COVID-19 vaccines being trialed in South Africa, along with candidates being developed by Novavax, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.
CEO of SAHPRA Boitumelo Semete says the regulator would focus on “safety, quality and efficacy” of any coronavirus vaccine used in the country as it fast-tracks vaccine approvals.
South Africa is now experiencing the second wave of infections.
There are concerns that most South Africans have misconceptions about coronavirus vaccines and will therefore avoid being vaccinated when the country acquires them.
A recent survey conducted by IPSOS found that less than 64% of South Africans would accept the vaccines. Out of that number, only 29% strongly agreed that vaccines were necessary.
WHO responds to the current debate on vaccines in South Africa
Safety a major consideration in choosing a vaccine
Chairperson of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID vaccines, Professor Barry Schoub says safety should be a major consideration in choosing a vaccine.
“There are many factors that we need to take into consideration. Efficiency is a major one. Safety is also non-negotiable. So safety and efficacy are really the major ones that we look at. Then we can have adjustable things like storage. If a vaccine has to be stored at -70 degrees, which the Pfizer vaccine requires, then it’s not going to be applicable to South Africa.”
Schoub says the country has to juggle between cost and efficacy. “In other words, if something is very much cheaper but has a slightly less efficacy; it might be cost-effective to go for that vaccine because you are going to get a bigger coverage. And then there are other factors like two doses for example and how it will behave in our population. We are a population that might be more immuno-suppressed with HIV for example.”
He says the first round of vaccines could be available only for priority groups.
“I think what’s going to happen is that the first round of vaccine is probably going to be available for selected priority groups like frontline healthcare workers, elderly people staying in nursing homes. So roughly so about 10% of the population.”
Mogoeng sticks to his guns on COVID-19 vaccine
Social media abuzz after Mogoeng’s prayer
Social media was abuzz after the video emerged of Mogoeng’s prayer in which he asked God to intervene in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I lockout every demon of COVID-19. I lock out any vaccine that is not of you. If there be any vaccine that is of the devil, meant to infuse 666 in the lives of people, meant to corrupt your DNA, any such vaccine, Lord God Almighty, may it be destroyed by fire.”
South Africa is in the second wave of infections and has registered the most infections and COVID-19-related deaths on the continent.
Government is studying the data of numerous candidates before purchasing a vaccine.
Mogoeng also added that it is an embarrassment that corruption by government officials has been rife during the coronavirus pandemic.
He says now is the time for South Africans to find solutions to numerous allegations of corruption in government.
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