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South Africa will start administering unapproved Johnson & Johnson vaccine

South Africa’s health minister says the country will begin administering the unapproved Johnson & Johnson vaccine to its front-line health workers next week.

The workers will be monitored to see what protection the J&J shot provides from COVID-19, and particularly against the coronavirus variant dominant in the country.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says that South Africa scrapped its plans to use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine because it “does not prevent mild to moderate disease” of the variant dominant in South Africa.

Mkhize asserts that the J&J vaccine, which is still being tested internationally, is safe.

He says those shots will be followed by a campaign to vaccinate an estimated 40 million people in South Africa by the end of the year. The minister said the country will be using the Pfizer vaccine and others, possibly including the Russian Sputnik V, Chinese Sinopharm and Moderna vaccines.

Illustrative — Thabisle Khlatshwayo, receives her second shot at a vaccine trial facility for AstraZeneca at Soweto’s Chris Sani Baragwanath Hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 30, 2020 (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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