The first coronavirus vaccine shipment to South Africa has arrived in the country, as it struggles with the continent’s highest caseload alongside a more transmissible strain of the virus. </p><div><p>A plane carrying the vaccines touched down at OR Tambo international airport on Monday. The load of one million AstraZeneca jabs, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India (SII), were warmly welcomed, with President Cyril Ramaphosa and other high-ranking officials in attendance.
Late in January, the president blasted rich nations for hoarding the anti-coronavirus drugs and condemned “vaccine nationalism.”
“We are concerned by vaccine nationalism. The rich countries in the world went out and acquired large doses of vaccines from the developers and manufacturers of these vaccines,” Ramaphosa said last Tuesday.
Some countries went beyond and acquired up to four times what their population needs. This is being done to the exclusion of other countries in the world.
South Africa has recorded the most Covid-19 infections and deaths on the continent, with more than 1.4 million confirmed cases and over 44,000 people succumbing to the disease. The country’s high continental ranking for Covid cases might partially stem from rather low testing rates among many other African nations.
The first vaccine delivery is set to be reserved for administering to the country’s 1.25 million health workers. South Africa is expected to receive another 500,000 doses from the SII later in the month.
As well as suffering high infection rates, the country has also faced a new and highly-contagious strain of the virus detected late in 2020. Though more transmissive, the strain is not believed to cause more severe Covid-19 symptoms than earlier variants.
The South African variant has already spread across the globe, with cases reported in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
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