South Africa on Monday received its first batch of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine that are expected to bolster the country’s fight against COVID-19.
Soon after touching down at the OR Tambo International Airport, the vaccine shipment was ferried to a lab where they are expected to be tested and approved by South Africa’s drug regulatory authorities.
The one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India are expected to be used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers, staring mid-February.
A second shipment of 500,000 doses of the vaccine is expected in the country later this month.
South Africa remains to be the hardest hit African country by the COVID-19 pandemic, having reported 1,453,761 infections with 44,164 deaths.
The figures represent 41.36 percent of the continent’s caseload and 49.63 percent of its fatalities.
The country has however experienced a decline in new cases, pointing towards a deflation of the virus load.
The decline in new cases has prompted some quarters to urge President Cyril Ramaphosa to ease restrictions aimed at curbing further spread of the virus.
President Ramaphosa is expected to address the nation later today on the developments in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is expected that he may announce an easing of some of the restrictions of the Level 3 lockdown which has stayed in place since December.
Some of the government-imposed measures that remain in place in efforts to contain the virus include a ban on large public gatherings, a ban on alcohol sale, a nighttime curfew and the closure of schools and beaches.