On Friday, South Africa began vaccinating teenagers and children as a part of phase three of clinical trials for China’s Sinovac Biotech Covid-19 vaccine for children aged between 6 months and 17 years.
The study will evaluate the efficacy of two doses of the CoronaVac against Covid-19 cases in children, and will include 2,000 participants in South Africa as well as 12,000 others in Kenya, the Philippines, Chile and Malaysia.
The trial began on Friday, at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in one of the South African capitals of Pretoria, after approval by the South African health products regulator, SAHPRA.
“The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the efficacy of two doses of CoronaVac against confirmed symptomatic Covid-19 cases in children and adolescents,” Sinovac said in a statement. “Efficacy will also be evaluated against hospitalisation and severe Covid-19.”
Dr Sanet Aspinall, principal coordinator for the study in South Africa, said: “Sinovac is a safe vaccine. The CoronaVac vaccine is safe and it induces humoral immunity.”
South Africa has been hit particularly hard by Covid-19, totalling for more than 35% of infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases and over 84,000 deaths. In recent months, the delta variant has fuelled a resurgence in the country, with previous 24 hours seeing 6,270 new infections and 175 deaths.
More than seven million South African residents have been fully vaccinated with either the Johnson & Johnson or the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, and all South Africans aged 18 and above are encouraged to get vaccinated in order to meet the country’s target of vaccinating at least 40 million of its 60 million population before 2022. But, they are struggling to meet their daily vaccination objective of at least 300,000 people a day.
On Friday, health minister Joe Phaala announced digital vaccination certifications for South Africans, and while the government has stated that people will not be forced to get vaccinated, several businesses have already stated that vaccines will be mandatory for their employees.
Choosing to serve unvaccinated customers will be up to the disrection of individual business owners and retailers, such as restaurants and bars.
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