By John Bowker

(Bloomberg) – South Africa is in advanced talks with Johnson & Johnson about a deal to receive the US drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine candidate, part of a wider effort to inoculate two-thirds of the population by the end of the year.

“Negotiations between both parties are now at an advanced stage, and developments will be announced soon,” the Department of Health said in a statement on Thursday.

J&J’s vaccine has yet to gain regulatory approval, but South Africa’s Aspen Pharmacare has agreed to manufacture doses in the country if it’s given the green light.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize earlier announced South Africa’s first 1.5 million vaccines will be delivered by The Serum Institute of India this month and in February. They will be used to protect health workers.

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