S.Africa delays AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

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“It’s a temporary issue that we have to hold onto AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues, what are the next steps supposed to be,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a media briefing on Sunday…reports Asian Lite News

South African authorities have confirmed that the roll-out of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the country will be temporarily put on hold until more “clinically efficacy information” of the vaccine against new variants of the virus is available.

“It’s a temporary issue that we have to hold onto AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues, what are the next steps supposed to be,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told a media briefing on Sunday.

Mkhize’s remarks came after a study showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the 501Y.V2 variant found in South Africa which was behind the second wave of the pandemic in the country, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The results suggest that the variant has significantly reduced the effectiveness of the vaccine on mild to moderate infection, and we are uncertain about the impact the vaccine will have on hospitalization, severe diseases and deaths,” said Mkhize.

Scientists are working to “figure out what approach we are going to use in order to effectively deploy the AstraZeneca vaccines”, the Minister said.

A total of 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses arrived in South Africa on February 1 and will expire in April.

The government had intended to roll them out to healthcare workers this week.

Scientists at the briefing said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was effective against the 501Y.V2 variant.

Mkhize said an update would be given as for when this vaccine would arrive in the country.

He also said the government was holding talks with a number of manufacturers and vaccines from different countries were being considered.

As of Monday, South Africa’s total Covid-19 infection tally and death toll stood at 1,476,135 and 46,290, respectively.

Also read:UK steps up urgent testing for S.African Covid variant