Covid-19: First African-made vaccines for Africans delivered today

Covid-19: Primeiras vacinas produzidas em África para africanos entregues hoje

South African pharmaceutical company Aspen, which packages Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in South Africa, announced that it will deliver its first batch of locally manufactured vaccine today.

Aspen "is pleased to confirm that the first delivery of Johnson & Johnson's covid-19 vaccine to South Africa" will be made today, the company announced in a statement, without specifying how much vaccine will be delivered.

The company described this delivery as a "significant milestone" in the history of South Africa and Africa in general, because "these are the first covid-19 vaccines produced on the African continent, by an African company and for African patients."

Aspen produces its vaccines at its factory in Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth) in the south of the country.

South Africa has recently accelerated its vaccination program, with 6.3 million injections given and 10% of the population with at least one dose of vaccine.

Initially limited to those over 35 years of age, vaccination will be open to everyone over 18, starting September 1.

Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer signed an agreement with Biovac of South Africa to produce covid-19 vaccines in Cape Town.

After announcing a 20% drop in the average daily number of new covid-19 cases, the South African president announced Sunday night the lifting of the ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages, as well as the easing of other restrictions due to the pandemic.

"The latest figures suggest that we are well past the peak of the third wave of infections, although there are areas in the country where we still need to be concerned because infection rates have not yet shown signs of decline," Ramaphosa said.

The government is allowing retail sales of alcohol to resume Monday through Thursday, while bars and restaurants will also be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages.

Schools have reopened completely, and social and religious gatherings for a maximum of 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors are again permitted. The night curfew has been reduced to between 22:00 and 04:00.

Ramaphosa also announced the reinstatement of a monthly emergency aid of 350 rand for unemployed South Africans until next March. According to the country's official statistics, an estimated two million jobs have been lost since last year due to the pandemic.

While new confirmed cases are decreasing in South Africa, many other countries in Africa are seeing an increase in covid.19 cases, driven by the Delta variant.

To accelerate its mass vaccination campaign, South Africa will begin giving vaccines during weekends and make them available to younger residents, aged 18 and older, starting September 1. Currently, vaccinations are limited to people 35 and older.

"In the coming weeks, we will substantially increase the vaccination rate," Ramaphosa said.

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