South Africa says it will import 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to inoculate the country’s health workers.
It’s the nation’s first announcement of the purchase of a COVID-19 vaccine. It comes as record highs of 21,832 new confirmed cases and 844 deaths were registered Wednesday.
The health minister says the first 1 million doses will be delivered later this month from the Serum Institute of India, followed by 500,000 doses in February.
South Africa, with 60 million people, has reported more than 1.1 million confirmed infections. That represents more than 30% of all cases on the 54-nation continent of 1.3 billion.
Some of South Africa’s hospitals are reporting they are at capacity. The rapid spread of the disease in recent weeks has been driven by a new, possibly more infectious variant of the virus, according to medical experts.
There have been 31,368 confirmed deaths in South Africa.