South Africans say the authorisation of the CoronaVac vaccine will bring them one step closer to returning their lives, to the way it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) authorised the CoronaVac vaccine over the weekend.

The vaccine is manufactured by Sinovac Life Sciences, a Chinese National Pharmaceutical Group.

SAHPRA has reduced the time taken to register medicines from 20 months to less than three months. This is in order to ensure that the country is well prepared to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The authorisation of the CoronaVac vaccine could not have come at a more crucial time. South Africa is battling a deadly third wave of infections exacerbated by the COVID-19 Delta variant, initially detected in India.

A consignment of the CoronaVac vaccine is likely to arrive in the country by the end of July. CoronaVac is a double-dose vaccine for people aged between 18 to 59. The doses will be given between 14 to 28 days apart.

South African citizens say the past year, of staying away from loved ones due to social distancing and working from home, has been emotionally draining.

“I believe that all vaccines that are approved by SAHPRA reduce the spread of the virus. I definitely welcome the fact that they have approved it. I am looking forward to the majority of citizens getting vaccinated so that we can go on with our lives like normal. We are tired of living like this,” says citizen.

Another South African says: “I think it’s great that SAHPRA has approved the Sinovac vaccine. It will ease the pressure of the government, at the same time I am a bit apprehensive.”

SAHPRA Chief Executive Officer, Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, says the authorisation was based on the safety, quality, and efficacy of data submitted to them.

Dr Semete-Makokotlela elaborates on approval in the video below:

Acting Minister of Health, Mamoloko Kubayi, has described the regulatory body’s decision as a turning point for the country.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has also welcomed the news, saying this approval is long overdue.

Last month, the party marched on SAHPRA, demanding that more vaccines be approved for use in South Africa.

EFF leader Julius Malema addresses supporters who gathered for the march: