JOHANNESBURG (AP) – South Africa will import 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate health workers, authorities said Thursday.
It is the nation’s first announcement about the purchase of a coronavirus vaccine, and it comes after records of 21,832 new cases and 844 deaths were recorded on Wednesday.
The health minister said the first million doses will be delivered this month by the Serum Institute of India, followed by 500,000 doses in February.
South Africa, with 60 million inhabitants, has reported more than 1.1 million confirmed cases. That represents more than 30% of the cases in the continent of 54 countries and 1.3 billion inhabitants.
Some South African hospitals are at full capacity. The rapid rise in infections in recent weeks has been driven by a new and more contagious variant of the virus, experts say.
There have been in total more than 31,368 confirmed cases in the country.