Flash Briefing: Covid-19 vaccines in SA; J&J trial data submission; local oil refineries shut until 2022

By Melani Nathan 

  • Johnson & Johnson’s preliminary data from the South African arm of a phase 3 Covid-19 vaccine trial will be ready for submission to US regulators by January 21st, according to the head of the country’s Medical Research Council. The timing ties in with the US drug giant’s statement that interim data from the late-stage trial it is conducting in a number of countries is expected by the end of this month. If the data show the one-dose vaccine to be safe and effective, J&J will approach US regulators for an emergency use authorisation in February, and “other health regulatory applications around the world will be made simultaneously. J&J has signed an agreement under which Aspen Pharmacare will manufacture 300 million doses a year in South Africa if the vaccine is approved.
  • Meanwhile, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said the government has secured more doses of coronavirus vaccines as he extended a ban on alcohol sales and restricted cross-border travel to curb the spread of the disease. Most of the 20 million vaccine doses the government has secured will arrive in the first half of this year, the president said. Visit BizNews.com to see what South Africans have to say about the delay in getting vaccines.
  • South African oil refining plants owned by Glencore and Petroliam Nasional that make up 43% of the nation’s oil-refining capacity are expected to stay shut until at least 2022, according to energy consultant Citac. The closures will force South Africa to rely heavily on fuel imports. All four of South Africa’s oil refineries – with a total capacity of more than 500,000 barrels a day – have had accidents or are under review, with the industry already hit hard by the Covid pandemic. A pending national clean-fuels policy is also likely to increase costs to upgrade machinery.
  • South Africa’s manufacturing output fell 3.5% year on year in November after falling by 3.4% in October, according to StatsSA. Factory production was down 1.3% in November month on month and rose 8.9% in the three months to the end of November, Statistics South Africa said.

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