A health official in South Africa said on Friday that the government will begin providing Pfizer coronavirus booster doses next month, a day after the country recorded a near-record high in daily instances of the sickness.
“People over the age of 60 will be the first to qualify for the booster dose in South Africa,” Dr Nicolas Crisp, director general of the health ministry, said at a weekly press briefing.
Experts are attempting to assess whether existing Covid vaccines would protect against the newly discovered highly mutated strain uncovered by South African scientists last month.
On Thursday, the daily number of new Covid infections reached a high of 22,391, with over 30% of tests coming back positive.
The country’s greatest daily total thus far came in early July, when more nearly 26,000 new cases were recorded.
Johnson & Johnson booster shots began being given to health practitioners last month.
South Africa is the continent’s worst-affected country for coronavirus, with 3.09 million cases reported, with over 90,000 deaths.
Omicron may be able to resist some of the antibody immunity from the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a short study published this week by the country’s African Health Research Institute.
However, the study’s authors claimed that there was no reason to expect that immunization would not protect against the variant’s severe sickness.
In South Africa, slightly more than a quarter of the population is fully vaccinated, with adults accounting for 43% of the population.
According to Health Minister Joe Phaahla, Omicron is responsible for almost 70% of new illnesses reported in South Africa.
Hospitalized individuals, on the other hand, had only moderate symptoms, he noted.