JOHANNESBURG—South Africa will start rolling out Covid-19 vaccines without requiring often-lengthy registrations of the shots, a step that other low- and middle-income countries scrambling to inoculate their populations against the coronavirus are expected to follow.
South Africa’s health ministry said the country will in January receive 1 million doses of the vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca PLC from the Serum Institute of India, which has an agreement to manufacture and distribute the shots. A second shipment of 500,000 doses is expected for February. The vaccine requires two doses to reach its full effect.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, or SAHPRA, plans to authorize the shots under a procedure that allows for the distribution of unregistered medical products. It will rely on the work done by regulators in other countries—such as the U.K. and India—that have already approved them.
Countries across Subsaharan Africa and the developing world are likely to emulate South Africa’s move, in an effort to expedite getting shots for at least some of their most-at-risk citizens. Some lack their own drug-approval authorities and are expected to rely on certification from the World Health Organization for rolling out Covid-19 vaccines.
SAHPRA said it would assess vaccines on a case-by-case basis and only authorize them if they were proven to be safe and effective.