Newsdeck

World

South Africa to vaccinate athletes ahead of Tokyo Olympic games

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa in front of the board showing his new world record in the mens 400m (43.03 seconds) during the evening session on Day 9 Athletics of the 2016 Rio Olympics at Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Roger Sedres/Gallo Images)

JOHANNESBURG, May 25 (Reuters) - South African athletes due to participate in this year's Tokyo Olympics will receive COVID-19 shots during a vaccination rollout that has so far prioritised the elderly and frontline workers, the country's medicine authority said on Tuesday.

 

Tokyo is due to host the Games from July 23 to Aug. 8 after they were postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have faced calls for a further postponement or cancellation because of rising COVID-19 cases in Japan and elsewhere, but they now look set to go ahead.

In a statement, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) said it had been granted permission by the Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to make available to the athletes the remaining Johnson & Johnson vaccines left over from an earlier “Sisonke Study” rollout before they expire.

The head of the MRC, Glenda Gray, said the athletes would have received the Pfizer vaccine, but there had not been enough time before their departure to complete the vaccination course of two doses.

“By them receiving the Sisonke vaccine, the Pfizer doses allocated to them will go to ordinary citizens of our country and thus will free up additional doses for our country,” said Gray.

South Africa has been the hardest hit country in Africa by COVID-19, with well over 50,000 deaths and 1.5 million confirmed cases.

Its vaccination campaign has had a slow start. Phase 1 of the rollout saw close to 480,000 people vaccinated, while Phase 2, which began in May, has seen 171,860 inoculations.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana)

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

We would like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick...

…but we are not going to force you to. Over 10 million users come to us each month for the news. We have not put it behind a paywall because the truth should not be a luxury.

Instead we ask our readers who can afford to contribute, even a small amount each month, to do so.

If you appreciate it and want to see us keep going then please consider contributing whatever you can.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.