South Africa has kicked off its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 by injecting healthcare workers with the shot developed by Johnson & Johnson as part of an observational study. The first healthcare worker was inoculated at 1pm (11:00 GMT) on Wednesday at the Khayelitsha District Hospital in Cape Town, following the arrival of 80,000 vaccine doses at Johannesburg’s international airport the night before. President Cyril Ramaphosa, along with Health Minister Zweli Mkhize and Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla, were also among the first to be vaccinated. The single-dose vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson is the first to be used outside a clinical trial and is not yet approved for general use anywhere in the world. The company’s jab has been shown to offer 57 percent protection against moderate to severe COVID-19 infections caused by a more transmissible new variant, the 501Y.V2 also known as B.1.351, which counts for 90 percent of cases in the country. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine, along with the one developed by Novavax (50 percent protection) are the only two vaccines that have shown efficacy in clinical trials held in South Africa against the new variant.
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