South Africa approves booster jab as omicron fuels new wave
JOHANNESBURG. KAZINFORM - South Africa approved the use of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine booster shot Wednesday as the country battles a fourth wave of the pandemic driven by the omicron variant, Anadolu Agency reports.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said it approved the shot after Pfizer applied to amend the dosing schedule for its Comirnaty vaccine, allowing an optional third dose.
«Following evaluation of the data submitted, SAHPRA has approved a third dose of the Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine in individuals aged 18 years and older, to be administered at least six months after the second dose,» the regulator said in a statement.
SAHPRA also approved the use of the booster shot in people aged 12 and older who are severely immunocompromised, to be administered at least 28 days after the second dose.
South Africa has seen a spike in infections in the last two weeks as scientists detected the omicron variant in the country.
According to the latest weekly epidemiology brief published by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), as of Dec .4, there was a 314.6% increase in the number of new cases detected in the country.
«In the past week, all provinces reported an increase in weekly incidence risk compared to the previous week,’’ the report said, adding the increase ranged from 14.9 cases per 100,000 persons equivalent to a 623.6% increase in the Eastern Cape Province to 228.3 cases per 100,000 persons (271.7% increase) in Gauteng Province.
As of Wednesday, the NICD reported 19,842 new COVID-19 cases in the country, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 3,071,064 and representing a 26.8% positivity rate. The country also reported a further 36 COVID-19 related deaths, bringing total fatalities to 90,038.
According to the NICD, there was an increase of 374 hospital admissions in the past 24 hours. There are currently over 4,000 people admitted to hospitals due to the pandemic.
South Africa’s approval of the Pfizer booster jab came hours before the company announced that a booster shot of its vaccine increases antibody protection 25-fold compared with the initial two-dose series and that adding a booster to the two-dose vaccine regimen neutralized the omicron variant in lab studies.