JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African athletes scheduled to compete in this year’s Tokyo Olympics will receive COVID-19 injections during a vaccination roll that has so far prioritized the elderly and workers frontline, the country’s medical authority said on Tuesday.
Tokyo is expected to host the Games from July 23 to August 8 after being postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have faced calls for further postponement or cancellation due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Japan and elsewhere, but now appear poised to move on. ‘before.
In a statement, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said it had been cleared by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to make the remaining Johnson & Johnson vaccines available to athletes. resulting from a previous deployment of the “Sisonke study”. before they expire.
MRC official Glenda Gray said the athletes would have received the Pfizer vaccine, but there was not enough time before they left to complete the two-dose vaccination cycle.
“By receiving the Sisonke vaccine, their assigned doses of Pfizer will go to ordinary citizens of our country and thus free up additional doses for our country,” Gray said.
South Africa has been the hardest-hit country in Africa by COVID-19, with more than 50,000 deaths and 1.5 million confirmed cases.
Its vaccination campaign got off to a slow start. Phase 1 of the deployment saw nearly 480,000 people vaccinated, while Phase 2, which began in May, saw 171,860 vaccinations.
(Report by Mfuneko Toyana)