South African Regulator Backs Distribution of AstraZeneca Shots

(Bloomberg) —

South Africa’s regulator granted the health department permission to distribute the vaccine from AstraZeneca Plc and the University of Oxford in its first nod for Covid-19 inoculations.The National Department of Health has been recognized by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority as a supplier of The Serum Institute of India Ltd., Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement late Friday.South Africa recently struck a deal with The Serum Institute to receive the country’s first coronavirus vaccines this month and next, as part of the earliest phase of a plan the government says will inoculate two-thirds of the population by the end of 2021.An initial 1.5 million doses will come from the institute, which is producing the version developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford, Mkhize said in a statement earlier this month. They will be reserved for health workers, and negotiations are ongoing with other manufacturers about further supplies, he said.

”We will, in the next coming days, engage with the public in order to give an update on the progress of the first batch of the vaccines that we committed would be received in the first quarter,” the health ministry said in Friday’s statement. “At this stage we would like to assure South Africans that all is on track. We are working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of the vaccine roll-out program.”

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