South Africa regulator says at superior stage of Pfizer vaccine assessment

Cape Town, March 4

South Africa’s medicines regulator said on Thursday that it was at an advanced stage of reviewing an emergency use application for Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

“Pfizer has engaged with SAHPRA via two regulatory pathways, that is registration for full commercial market access and Section 21 authorisation. The Section 21 application is in advanced stages of review,” Yuven Gounden, spokesman for the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), told Reuters.

A Section 21 application, normally valid for six months, is an instrument for emergency use access of a health product that is unregistered. AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine was granted Section 21 approval by SAHPRA in January.

South Africa, the hardest-hit by the pandemic on the African continent in terms of recorded infections and deaths, hopes to receive 117,000 Pfizer doses before the end of the month from global vaccine distribution scheme COVAX.

Those doses would be part of an “exceptional distribution” allocated to the country by COVAX as efforts to ramp up vaccination across Africa gather pace.

In the second quarter South Africa expects to start receiving more Pfizer doses under a bilateral deal.

It started rolling out Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine last month in a research study targeting healthcare workers. —Reuters

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