South Africa halts Oxford-AstraZeneca jab over new strain

South Africa halts Oxford-AstraZeneca jab over new strain
Source: Reuters
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: South Africa has put its Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out on hold after a study, involving around 2,000 people, showed “disappointing” results against its new Covid variant.

Scientists say the new strain accounts for 90% of new Covid cases in South Africa.

The study found the vaccine offered “minimal protection” against mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

South Africa has received one million doses of the AstraZeneca jab and was due to start vaccinating people next week.

South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said whilee speaking at an online news conference on Sunday that his government would wait for further advice on how best to proceed with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in light of the findings.

The vaccine trial was carried out by the University of the Witwatersrand but has not yet been peer reviewed.

In the meantime, the health minister said, the government will offer vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in the coming weeks.

Prof Shabir Madhi, who led the study, told the briefing: “Unfortunately, the AstraZeneca vaccine does not work against mild and moderate illness.”

He said that the study had not been able to investigate the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine’s efficacy in preventing more serious infections, as participants had an average age of 31 and so did not represent the demographic most at risk of severe symptoms from the virus.

Oxford’s lead vaccine developer Prof Sarah Gilbert said vaccines should still protect against severe disease.

She said developers were likely to have a modified version of the injection against the South Africa variant of the coronavirus, also known as 501.V2 or B.1.351, later this year.

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