With the vaccine jointly developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford providing minimal protection against the mutant variant of COVID-19 dominant in South Africa, the country has asked the Serum Institute of India (SII) to take back one million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine supplied by it.
Earlier this week, South Africa also said that it will halt the use of the vaccine supplied by SII in its immunisation programme.
Notably, SII is supplying the AstraZeneca vaccine to several countries after securing a nod from the Union government. It has supplied one million doses of the vaccine last week to South Africa and was supposed to supply another 5 lakh vaccines in the coming weeks.
Vaccine not effective on mutant variant, says South Africa
South Africa’s health minister has said the government may sell doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, after the country paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country.
According to the data of a study done by South Africa’s University of Witwatersrand and University of Oxford, AstraZeneca had said that the vaccine developed by it provides only limited protection against mild infection caused by the South African variant. Interestingly, the WHO has already cleared the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use.
Use of J&J vaccine
Meanwhile, South Africa is contemplating to start vaccinating its health workers with the vaccine developed by Johson & Johnson in the form of an implementation study with researchers. Notably, the country is yet to launch its COVID-19 vaccination programme.
According to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 data, South Africa has reported 14.96 lakh cases of COVID-19 infections, whereas its death toll due to the viral infection stands at 48,478. The new mutant variant dominant in South Africa has wreaked havoc for the country’s economy and has already spread to various European Union member nations and detected in India as well.
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