South Africa pauses AstraZeneca vaccine rollout. This is after a study showed it offered minimal protection against the first South African Covid-19 Variant.
In a briefing on Sunday, South African Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize mentioned that the pause is temporary. This was to allow scientists to figure out how to successfully distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Dr. Zweli also confirmed that they are going ahead with the Pfizer/Biontech and Johnson & Johnson vaccine rollout.
According to early data delivered on Sunday, two measures of AstraZeneca Vaccine only offered “Minimal protection” against the Mild Covid-19. The Mild variant was the first to be identified in South Africa before a more aggressive B.1.351 variant showed up.
The study (not released) includes some 2000 participants who averaged 31years of age. 1000 received the placebo while the remaining 1000 received the vaccine which did nothing.
According to researchers, B.1.351 variant’s viral neutralization was “greatly reduced” compared to the earlier strain. They however did not asses the vaccine’s efficacy on severe Covid-19, hospitalization and death.
Early data released Sunday suggest two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine provided only “minimal protection” against mild and moderate Covid-19 from the variant first identified in South Africa.
Contents of the study between researchers of University of Oxford and University of Witwatersrand were outlined via Press statement. The Preprint will be shared as soon as the ongoing peer-review of the results has been completed.
AstraZeneca’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company is supporting and working closely with South African Health Ministry. They are looking into how best to aid in the tests against severe illness caused by the B.1.351 variant.
AstraZeneca still believes their vaccine can still protect against the B.1.351 variant between 8-12 weeks dosing intervals.
The technical lead for World Health Organization (WHO) Maria Van Kerkhove said that the independent panel is meeting. The meeting is to debate AstraZeneca’s Vaccine and what the recent study means for vaccines moving forward.
Van Kerkhove said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that “some preliminary studies suggesting reduced efficacy. But again, those studies aren’t fully published yet.”
Ms. Maria added how critical it was to have different types of safe vaccines and why WHO can’t rely on one product.
GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings