S Africa considering purchase of Russian COVID-19 vaccine pending WHO approval – Embassy

Moscow, Sep 4 (Sputnik) South Africa will look into the possibility of placing an order for Russia’s vaccine against COVID-19 as soon as it is endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the charge d’affaires at the South African Embassy in Moscow, Madivha Aaron Mudimeli, told Sputnik.
“We are happy that the Russian Federation has this vaccination. Maybe this vaccine will be approved and then exported to other countries – and maybe South Africa will be one of the recipients,” Mudimeli remarked.
The Russian Health Ministry has registered the world’s first vaccine for the prevention of COVID-19, developed by the Gamaleya Research Institute, and produced jointly with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).
Kirill Dmitriev, the CEO of the RDIF, has said that the fund has received applications from over 20 countries for the purchase of a billion doses of the Russian coronavirus vaccine. Dmitriev added that Russia has also agreed on the production of the vaccine in five countries.
However, Mudimeli noted that South Africa will wait for an official endorsement of the vaccine from the WHO before making their purchase.
“In South Africa, we are controlled by the WHO; if the WHO endows the vaccine and says it’s safe now for human consumption, everything is OK. Definitely, at some point, there will be that consideration, but for now, I can’t see it being considered unless there are very, very clear guidelines from the WHO,” the embassy official remarked.
The South African government will take this stance for any vaccine against COVID-19, Mudimeli explained.
“Other countries also claim to have vaccines; we will wait for that time when there is an official endorsement of the vaccine and it can be shipped out of the country and we’ll take it from there,” the embassy official stated.
Mudimeli also expressed his gratitude to Russia for delivering two batches of test systems, which were designed to conduct 15,000 tests for the coronavirus disease.
“South Africa and Russia have a very good relationship … We cooperate in different spheres … We have also issues that we discuss bilaterally on health. This year, Russia assisted South Africa on two occasions and we really appreciate that because it helped us to do the testing,” the diplomat said.
In late August, the WHO noticed that the pandemic is, in general, continuing to slow down in the African region. Mudimeli expressed hope that this trend will continue and said that the country is managing to control the situation.
“We have around 600,000 cases and a very high recovery rate and a very low death rate. Although in the world ranking we are number six now, everything is under control. With level two, we have opened the economy partly, especially in the tourism sector, local tourism. We opened restaurants,” the embassy official said.
According to the South African government’s official coronavirus disease portal, more than 630,000 positive tests have been registered since the start of the outbreak. The country’s COVID-19 death toll, as of Thursday, stands at 14,389.


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