South African regulator approves Pfizer booster vaccine after increase in Covid cases

SAHPRA approved the use of Pfizer’s Comirnaty® COVID-19 vaccine after BioNTech and Pfizer announced that two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to protect against the Omicron variant

South Africa has approved the use of Pfizer’s coronavirus booster vaccine for people over the age of 18, amid growing concern after a record high of nearly 20,000 overnight infections, widely attributed to the new highly mutant Omicron variant.

The South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) on December 8 approved the use of Pfizer’s Comirnaty® COVID-19 vaccine after BioNTech and Pfizer announced that two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to protect against the Omicron variant.

He said a third dose of the vaccine could be given to people over 18 at least six months after their second vaccine, or 28 days after the second vaccine for people over 12 who are severely immunosuppressed.

The SAHPRA decision came after South Africa recorded a new record of 19,842 overnight infections. The death toll has now also passed the 90,000 mark with 36 new deaths.

More than 60% of those infections have been in Gauteng province, the country’s economic center, as speculation grew that a more severe lockdown was imminent. South Africa is currently at level one of its five-level lockdown strategy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was due to hold urgent meetings with the Corona Command Council and his cabinet immediately after returning from a week-long visit to four West African countries on Thursday.

There are growing fears that infection numbers will continue to rise exponentially in other provinces as well as vacationers head to coastal provinces and workers in Gauteng visit their traditional family homes for gatherings. during the holiday season.

Despite repeated calls from government, unions and business leaders, the reluctance to vaccinate has continued unabated over the past week as infections have reached staggering numbers.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla on Monday expressed concern that hospitals are starting to fill up with COVID-19 cases, although the majority of cases are not serious.

Mr. Phaahla also expressed his concerns about children and pregnant women when he spoke at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa in Durban.

“We see babies, toddlers and pregnant women hospitalized on oxygen. The message is clear, we must be more vigilant than ever, ”the Minister warned.

On Tuesday, Jacques van Zuydam, chief director of population and development at the Department of Social Development, revealed that life expectancy in South Africa had declined by three and a half years due to the pandemic.

He was speaking at a BRICS webinar on the demographic impact of the pandemic.

“There has been a significant increase in deaths in 2021, of around 34% compared to previous years,” he said, adding that what had not been predicted was the impact of the pandemic on mental health.

“There has been a reported increase in mental illness associated with increased social isolation, disruptions in daily routines and pressures associated with loss of livelihoods,” he added.

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