SA offers AU 1m AstraZeneca jabs

JOHANNESBURG. — South Africa has offered its stock of AstraZeneca/Oxford coronavirus vaccines to the African Union, according to the country’s health minister.

Zweli Mkhize said late Tuesday that the African Union will distribute the vaccines to African countries that expressed interest in acquiring them.

South Africa halted the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine that was due to be rolled out this month in the country after a new study revealed the vaccine was less effective against the South African variant of the coronavirus.

The country received 1 million doses of the vaccine from the Serum Institute in India on February 1, which the government said would be administered first to frontline health workers.

“We would also like to categorically refute the speculation in media that we have returned the stock to India — we have not,” the minister confirmed during a debate of the State of the Nation Address.

He said the country had successfully secured 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is said to be more effective against the variant dominant in South Africa.

The country received its first batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Tuesday night.

South Africa has the highest number of infections in the continent with 1,4 million cases and over 48 300 deaths. It is also the 16th most-affected country in the world. —

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