South Africa launches COVID-19 vaccination program with J&J shots - (National Post via NewsPoints Desk)

  • South Africa launched its COVID-19 vaccination drive on Wednesday with a roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, as reported in the National Post.

  • "The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been shown in extensive trials to be safe and efficacious and will protect our healthcare workers from illness and death from COVID-19," stated South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.

  • The candidate is being deployed for the first time outside of a major clinical trial as part of a research study targeting up to 500,000 healthcare workers. Johnson & Johnson has been submitting data to South African medicines regulator SAHPRA to secure registration for a larger-scale roll-out.

  • The South African government has been under pressure to begin the immunisation campaign quickly after pausing the roll-out of AstraZeneca's vaccine earlier this month.

  • That decision came after preliminary trial data indicated AstraZeneca's vaccine offered minimal protection against mild-to-moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 variant dominant in the country.

  • Ramaphosa said earlier on Wednesday that 80,000 doses of Johnson & Johnson's candidate were being prepared for distribution across the country.

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