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WATCH: Ordinary South Africans will be vaccinated within 12 weeks – Prof Glenda Gray

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CEO of the SA Medical Research Council says they hope to enrol half a million health care workers for the vaccine

Professor Glenda Gray. Picture: Cara Viereckl

SOUTH Africans can expect to be vaccinated within the next 12 weeks, this is according to Professor Glenda Gray who is heading the Johnson & Johnson implementation study in the country.

Earlier on Wednesday, the first shots of the vaccine were administered to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and health care workers at Khayelitsha District Hospital in the Western Cape province.

Gray, who is also the CEO of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), spoke during a media briefing where she said they hope to enrol half a million health care workers for the vaccine.

Over 400,000 health care workers have already registered on the Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) to receive the vaccine.

“We will continue to enrol the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until it is registered in South Africa. We hope it will take 12 weeks to vaccinate the healthcare workers,“ she said.

“We expect approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) any day now, it is already at the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and we will go to the World Health Organization (WHO) afterwards. It is already a rolling submission at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). The idea is to get the product licensed in South Africa.”

The first 80,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine will be rolled out across the country as part of an implementation study.

The implementation study, similar to the final phase of a vaccine trial, will test the effects of the vaccine in the field after it is administered to around 350,000 to 500,000 health care workers.

This type of study focuses on the application of the research findings among those who most need it.

Mkhize said: “The immediate roll-out of phase one vaccination with J&J through the Sisonke protocol has been made possible by the fact that the 300,000 doses of the now proven and efficacious J&J vaccine were already tested and approved by SAHPRA for use under study conditions.”