JOHANNESBURG, South Africa: South Africa began vaccinating children and adolescents aged 6 months to 17 years as part of the global Phase 3 clinical trials of China's Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccine.
The study includes 2,000 people from South Africa, while 12,000 others will be taking part in Kenya, the Philippines, Chile and Malaysia.
The first group of children was inoculated at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University in the capital Pretoria, while others will receive shots at 6 different sites across the country, the Sinovac company said in a statement Friday.
"The primary objective of the study is to evaluate the efficacy of two doses of the CoronaVac against confirmed symptomatic COVID-19 cases in children and adolescents," said the statement.
"Efficacy will also be evaluated against hospitalizations and severe COVID-19 cases," Sinovac said.
South Africa, which accounts for more than 35 percent of COVID-19 infections in Africa, with 2.8 million confirmed cases, including 84,327 deaths, has recently battled a resurgence driven by the delta variant.
More than 7 million people have been fully vaccinated with either the single-shot Johnson and Johnson vaccine or the two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
On Friday, health minister Joe Phaahla announced that the country would be issuing digital vaccination certificates.
While the government has said it will not force people to get vaccinated, some South African companies have already indicated that they will make vaccinations compulsory for their employees.