Coronavirus live news: South Africa to give health workers unapproved Johnson & Johnson vaccine

South Africa to administer 80,000 doses in large-scale trial; Brazil environment minister tests positive for Covid; snow storm halts Greek vaccination

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South Africa to administer 80,000 doses in large-scale trial; Brazil environment minister tests positive for Covid; snow storm halts Greek vaccination drive

South Africa is preparing to give its first Covid-19 vaccinations, shots of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine still being tested, to health care workers this week as part of a large scale trial, the health minister has said.AP reports that the first batch of 80,000 doses of the single dose vaccine, which has not been authorised for general use in South Africa or anywhere else in the world, is expected to arrive in the country imminently and will be administered to health care professionals across the country, Zweli Mkhize told parliament.

The vaccines are to be administered as an observational study, in which no placebo shots will be given and the health and future infections of all participants will be tracked.Tests so far suggest the vaccine is safe and effective at preventing severe illness or death from Covid. Another 500,000 doses are expected to be flown to South Africa within four weeks for the vaccination campaign.The first phase of South Africa’s campaign is to vaccinate the country’s 1.25 million health care workers. More than 380,000 health care workers have already registered for vaccination, Mkhize said, encouraging all front-line health workers to register on the government’s internet site.

We salute the health care workers who have chosen vaccination for their own protection and the protection of their colleagues, families and community members.

As more doses arrive the service will be ramped up accordingly to ensure that we maintain a good rate of daily vaccines.

The minister of Covid-19 response, Chris Hipkins has confirmed that two students of Papatoetoe high school in south Auckland have tested positive for Covid-19.

This comes after two full days of no new community cases, following the detection of a family of 3 testing positive on Sunday, and the whole of Auckland placed into a three-day lockdown, with the rest of the country placed at Level 2.

Prime minister Jacinda Ardern is meeting with her cabinet this afternoon to discuss the situation and whether alert levels will go up, down or remain the same. She will hold a press conference at 4.30 pm.

The two new cases are siblings at the high school and knew the student who tested positive on Sunday.

Of the 31 close contacts in Papatoetoe High School, 29 have been tested and 28 are negative, while one is positive, the minister said.

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