SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Health Products Authority (SAPHRA) has approved Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for use by children aged 12 and older, paving the way for the government to offer vaccinations to teenagers.
The move follows a review of updated safety and efficacy information and doesn’t translate into a procurement decision, the South African health regulator said.
Regulators approved the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech for local use in adults in March.
Africa’s most developed country has been the hardest hit by the pandemic, reporting the highest number of infections. Around 12% of the nation has been fully vaccinated, with the country of about 60 million people now bracing for a fourth wave of infections to hit in early December.
The approval comes after Sinovac Biotech said a Covid-19 vaccine trial in infants, children and adolescents would take place in South Africa as part of a global study.
Sinovac to set up plant in SA
Also, the Chinese biopharmaceutical company is in talks about setting up a vaccine production facility in South Africa to supply the African continent with shots against a range of diseases, the chief executive of its local partner said on Friday.
Numolux Group CEO Hilton Klein made the comments at the launch of the South African leg of a global Phase III trial of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine in children and adolescents.
“This clinical trial is a precursor to the establishment of a South African vaccine manufacturing facility partnered by Sinovac and Numolux Group that will cover the entire spectrum of vaccinations beyond just the COVID-19 response,” Klein told a news conference.
The country, which has managed to immunize more than 10.5 million of the country’s 60 million people, is working to establish a digital Covid-19 vaccination certificate which will confirm that a person has been vaccinated in South Africa, health minister Dr Joe Phaahla said.
Phaahla said that the certificate would be available through a person’s smartphone, which can then also be printed out.
“This initiative is in line with the World Health Organisation initiated vaccination certificate. Through this, the WHO attempting to standardise vaccination proof all over the world,” he said.
The health minister said that the certificate would likely be used for certain services in the future, but the government has no intention to make the certificate a requirement for accessing public services.
Instead, Phaahla said that the document would be used to gain entry to entertainment and sporting events and possibly some businesses.