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JOHANNESBURG: The South African health regulator said on Monday it has registered Chinese COVID-19 vaccine Sinopharm, effectively clearing the way for its use in the country.

South Africa, which is the worst-hit country in Africa both in terms of COVID-19 fatalities and caseload, has relied mainly on Pfizer and J&J vaccine doses as its inoculation mainstay as the country prepares for a potential fifth wave.

"This authorisation is based on acceptable safety, quality and efficacy data submitted by MC Pharma," South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said in a statement.

MC Pharma is a Beijing-based company that manufactures Sinopharm vaccine, the regulator said.

Pfizer to seek green light to vaccinate kids 5 and under: reports

China's two most widely used COVID-19 vaccines, developed by Sinovac and Sinopharm, were shown to be effective against the Delta variant of the coronavirus, a study based on real-world data in the country showed in February.

SAHPRA said their authorisation for the vaccine, to be used on people 18 years and above, was based on data submitted by the company in the latter half of last year.

However, the authorisation was subject to several conditions, including that the vaccine supplied and administered as two injection shots, must be subject to periodic safety reviews.

The South African government has not officially announced a supply deal or procurement of shipments of Sinopharm as yet.

The country has fully vaccinated only about 28% of the total population of roughly 60 million.

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