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Covid-19 vaccinations begin in South Africa

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PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP or licensors

South Africa

South Africa on Wednesday began vaccinations for Covid-19 using the Johnson & Johnson jab which got into the country on Tuesday.

Inoculations began with medical workers. The South African Medical Association (SAMA) said the vaccine will be administered at 17 sites.

President Cyril Ramaphosa was one of the first to receive the vaccine. He was inoculated alongside health workers in Khayelitsha, Western Cape province.

He said the move is to demonstrate confidence and alley any fears about the vaccine. 

Before turning to the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, South Africa scrapped the rollout of the AstraZeneca drug after it was found to falter against the Covid-19 variant dominant in the country.

One million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine had already arrived in the country, prompting fierce criticism against Ramaphosa's government. 

On Tuesday, South Africa's health minister said the vaccines would be given to countries where they can be deployed. 

"The AstraZeneca doses which we've purchased have been offered to the African Union platform, which we are part of, and the AU will distribute to the countries that already indicated interest and do not have this particular challenge of this variant. Therefore, there will be no wasteful and fruitless expenditure", said Zweli Mkhize during a session of parliament. 

Meanwhile, the health ministry reported 1,210 new COVID-19 cases in South Africa.

The department also confirmed 219 more COVID-19 related deaths, taking the country's death toll to 48,313.

The health minister announced that the country has secured 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

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