South Africa’s health regulatory body has granted approval to the world’s largest drug manufacturer Serum Institute of India (SII) to supply COVID-19 vaccine to the country.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize announced on Friday that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has granted approval to the SII, which is producing the vaccine in collaboration with the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca, to supply the drug to the country.
The approval comes amid growing concerns that the 1.5 million vaccine doses to be shipped to South Africa in the next few weeks had not been approved by the local regulator.
“We will, in the next coming days, engage with the public in order to give an update on the progress of the first batch of the vaccines that we committed would be received in the first quarter,” Zweli Mkhize said.
The minister had earlier told the country’s parliament that the SII would supply a million doses of the vaccine to South Africa by the end of January and a further 500,000 in February, which would be used to vaccinate front line healthcare workers.
“At this stage we would like to assure South Africans that all is on track. We are working closely with all relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth implementation of the vaccine roll-out programme,” Zweli Mkhize said.