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SAHPRA considering application for COVID booster shots

South Africans who have been vaccinated with the two-dose Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine might soon be able to get a third dose as a booster shot, possibly by mid-December.

This follows an announcement on Monday 22 November by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) that it had received an application from Pfizer on 17 November to have booster shots administered in the country, reports Mail & Guardian.

By Sunday, more than 18,7m doses of the vaccine had been given to more than 10,4m adults and adolescents aged between 12 and 17. At least 10.7m people have received one shot of the vaccine while more than 7.9m have had two doses.

If approved, South Africa will join countries like the US, Canada and some in the European Union that are either considering booster shots or have started administering them to adults who were considered fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer drug, according to a Reuters report.

Israel was one the first countries to administer booster shots to adults over 60, and had vaccinated more than 4m of its adult population with a third dose of the Pfizer vaccine by 9 November. It is currently considering booster shots for adolescents aged 12 to 15.

According to a study by The Lancet, a third dose of the mRNA vaccine was found to be effective in protecting individuals against severe COVID-19 related-outcomes when compared with receiving only two doses at least five months ago.

The study estimated that a third dose had up to 93% effectiveness in preventing COVID-related hospital admission, reduced severe disease by up to 92% and prevented up to 81% of COVID-19-related deaths.

However, South African Health Department spokesperson Foster Mohale said vaccine boosters would not be available to the public until the Sisonke trial – in which health workers will access the Johnson & Johnson vaccine booster – has been concluded. The Sisonke trial ends on 15 December.

Daily Maverick reports Mohale as saying they were working on plans for the booster roll-out but that it would be informed by the results of the Sisonke study, meaning boosters would only become available after mid-December.


Covid-19 booster shot possibly on cards for South Africans (Open access)


Festive season roll-out: Covid vaccine boosters will only be available to public in mid-December (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Pfizer vaccine 'extraordinarily effective' against UK and SA variants — Two studies


Encouraging safety results from Sisonke trial of J&J vaccine in SA


SAMA wants booster shots for healthcare workers and the right to choose which vaccine


J&J vaccine: Booster jabs from Moderna or Pfizer might be better – NIH trial


After Israel dropped the vaccine ball, boosters show signs of taming Delta


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