Argentina set to receive first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine from India Wednesday

COVID Update South Africa variant Brazil India ICMR Covid-19 SARS-CoV-2 South Africa WHO

Four people were detected with the South Africa variant of SARS-CoV-2 in India in January, while one tested positive for the Brazil variant strain in the first week of February, the Centre said on Tuesday.

The South African variant has already spread to 44 countries and the four cases detected in India had come from Angola (one case), Tanzania (one), and South Africa (two), Dr. Bhargava said.

Johnson & Johnson ensemble trial co-lead, Professor Linda-Gail Bekker, said that healthcare workers would initially be inoculated at 17 sites across the country.

According to scientists the South African variant is more contagious and it has been found that it is resistant to one of the three vaccines approved so far.

On Tuesday, the deputy health minister denied reports that the government has asked the manufacturer to take back all 1 million doses. "This programme of targeted testing will help our health experts understand more about the spread of the South African variant and hopefully help us get out of lockdown measures as soon as possible".

The eastern region of France announced Monday that it would receive 30,000 additional vaccine doses from the government - all of them from Pfizer-BioNTech, according to France's public broadcaster.

The health minister said the company was applying for emergency-use authorisation and stressed that it had been established "without dispute" that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 57% effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.

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"The consignment will be moved to a secure facility.before being distributed overnight to the various vaccinecentres in all provinces", the Government Communication andInformation System said in a statement.

Earlier this month, South Africa received 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, at a price of just over $5 (R78) each.

The African country, which is yet to launch its COVID-19 vaccination program, has made a decision to start vaccinating health workers with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine in the form of an "implementation study" with researchers.

"We should not be waiting for the virus to infect us but we should save ourselves by getting the vaccine", Paul said, adding that Indians must follow practices such as wearing masks, and maintaining hand hygiene and social distancing.

South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million cases of COVID-19, including more than 47,000 deaths, which is 41% of the confirmed cases in Africa's 54 countries, representing 1.3 billion people.

The strain has spread to 15 countries.

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