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Strict safety protocols will be in place for COVID-19 vaccine rollout - Sahpra

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has established a specialised working group of experts to prepare for the country's coronavirus vaccine rollout.

Picture: 123rf.com

CAPE TOWN - The body that approves and regulates medical products has assured South Africans there will be stringent safety protocols in place to guide the rollout of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

The SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) has established a specialised working group of experts to prepare for the country's coronavirus vaccine rollout.

The National Press Club hosted the regulatory body for an online update on COVID-19 vaccine registration on Monday afternoon.

With the UK beginning its mass vaccination campaign last week and the US preparing to distribute vaccines as soon as possible, South Africans are wondering when and how the rollout will happen here.

Globally, more than 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are under development with 11 in Phase 3 clinical trials.

Professor Helen Rees, Sahpra board chairperson, said that recently published peer-reviewed results of COVID-19 vaccines gave confidence in the products.

"There are now publications for example on the Pfizer and AstraZeneca [vaccines]. These are peer-reviewed publications in very reputable journals and one of the things about that versus a press statement is that it gives us confidence that professional colleagues have looked at the data and have approved the publication of that data."

The regulatory body's CEO, Dr Boitumelo Semete, said that quality, safety and efficacy of any potential vaccine was paramount.

"We will ensure that any vaccine that is made available in the country has gone through very thorough scientific review, that we've satisfied ourselves that it meets the regulatory requirements, that we've applied them in many other vaccines that are available in the country."

Once COVID-19 vaccine candidates have been approved, the national Health Department will determine access and distribution of a vaccine or vaccines.

Sahpra controls the rollout of all health products in the country, which includes monitoring, evaluating and registration.

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