South Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine doses arrive by plane

The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S.

The airplane carrying South Africa’s first COVID-19 vaccine doses landed at the OR Tambo international airport in Johannesburg on Monday, state broadcaster SABC reported, as the country prepares to roll out an immunisation campaign.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and other top officials were at the airport to receive the 1 million doses, after some scientists publicly criticised the government for not securing shots sooner.

The AstraZeneca doses, produced by the Serum Institute of India, are destined for sorely stretched healthcare workers.

South Africa has recorded the most coronavirus infections and deaths on the African continent, at more than 1.4 million cases and over 44,000 deaths to date.

Since late last year, it has been battling a more contagious virus variant called 501Y.V2.

The vaccine shots will be checked over roughly 10 to 14 days before they will be distributed to the country’s nine provinces and inoculations can begin.

The shots will only cover a portion of South Africa’s 1.25 million health workers.

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