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South Africa approves coronavirus vaccine booster for adults



Pfizer, BioNTech said that two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to protect against Omicron (File)

Johannesburg, South Africa:

South Africa on Wednesday approved Pfizer’s coronavirus booster shots for over 18s, as the Omicron version continues to dominate rising new infections.

The South African Health Products Authority said in a statement that it was authorizing a third vaccine dose “to be administered at least six months after the second dose, in persons 18 years of age and older.”

It says severely immunocompromised children aged 12 to 17 years may be given a third pill at least 28 days after their second dose.

BioNTech and Pfizer announced that two doses of their vaccine may not be enough to protect against the highly-mutated Omicron variant, which is causing global concern that it may transmit faster than previous strains.

In preliminary results released on Wednesday, pharmaceutical companies stressed the third shot was “still effective in preventing COVID-19, also effective against Omicron”.

Early results from a small study in South Africa suggested that there was a 40-fold drop in the ability of antibodies from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to neutralize Omicron, compared to the first beta version of the coronavirus.

With a cumulative tally of 3,071,064 infections and 90,038 deaths, Covid has hit South Africa harder than any other country in the continent.

The number of new cases rose to 19,842 on Thursday, up from 13,147 the previous day.

Netcare, one of the largest cohorts of private hospitals in South Africa, said patients admitted with the Omicron variant showed much milder symptoms than the earlier forms.

“Their symptoms are far milder than anything we experienced during the first three waves,” Netcare CEO Richard Friedland said in a statement.

“Of the hundreds of people who were diagnosed with COVID in their healthcare facilities,” the company said in a statement, “nearly all patients presented with mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, including a blocked or runny nose, headache and A rash or sore throat is involved.”

About 90 percent of Covid-19 patients admitted to its hospitals do not require oxygen therapy.

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)