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First batch of vaccines take flight

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The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday.

The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday. Picture: Dirco

Cape Town – The first shipment of 1 million doses of the Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India (SII) left the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Sunday.

According to the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, the Consul-General of South African in Mumbai, Andrea Kühn and members of the Consulate were in attendance “to extend South Africa’s deep appreciation to the exceptional and professional support rendered by the government of India, the SII, Mumbai International Airport Cargo, Expo Freight Private Limited (EFL) and Emirates Airline”.

“This milestone highlighted the solid relations and deep friendship that exist between South Africa and India and further consolidated the cooperation between our two countries in the fight against the spread of the global pandemic,” Dirco said.

Picture: Dirco

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, developed by the Oxford University and AstraZeneca and produced by the Serum Institute of India, will travel via Dubai, and arrive in South Africa on Monday.

Picture: Dirco

He said that the vaccines would first have to go through strict quality assurance and stock control over a period of 10 to 14 days, before they are distributed across the country’s nine provinces. Healthcare workers will be first to receive the vaccine.

The first doses of the vaccine are arriving at the time the South Africa is battling a second wave.

The cumulative number of Covid-19 cases in the country on Saturday stood at 1 449 236 and the death toll at 43 951.