JOHANNESBURG July 9 (Xinhua) -- As COVID-19 cases continue surging, acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said the approval of the CoronaVac vaccine would enhance South Africa's vaccination rollout program.
"CoronaVac will boost the vaccine supply for country's vaccination rollout program in addition to those we already receive from Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson," she said at a media briefing Friday.
The CoronaVac, also known as the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine, is an inactivated virus COVID-19 vaccine developed by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech. CoronaVac uses an inactivated whole virus, compelling a recipient's immune system to attack the harmless form of the virus by producing antibodies to fight it off, leading to immunity.
On June 1, the World Health Organization validated the CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
The CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine was recently approved for use in the country by the health regulator South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
"The approval came at a time when the demand for vaccines goes up as more and more people are yearning to get vaccines. Following the approval, we are expecting an advisory from VMAC (Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19 Vaccines) in order to take the process forward. They understand the urgency of the matter," Kubayi said, adding the expansion of the vaccine rollout would allow the vaccination of people aged 35 to 49 to commence on Aug. 1.
So far, more than 4 million South Africans have been vaccinated.