South Africa on Monday received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines that are expected to help the country’s efforts to stem the virus.

The 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses produced by the Serum Institute of India are expected to be used to inoculate frontline healthcare workers, starting mid-February.

An Emirates flight carrying the jabs touched down at the OR Tambo International Airport in rainy conditions on Monday afternoon.

President Cyril Rampahosa inspected the shipment before trucks hauled it away to the laboratories of the country’s medicines regulator where the vaccines will undergo further efficacy tests before being deployed.

The government intends to inoculate 40 million people, representing 67% of the country’s population of 60 million, by the end of the year.

South Africa is the hardest-hit African country by the COVID-19 pandemic, having reported 1,453,761 infections with 44,164 deaths.

The figures represent 41.36 percent of the continent’s caseload and 49.63 percent of its fatalities.

President Ramaphosa was expected to address the nation later on Monday.

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