South Africa suspends rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine
February 8, 2021
One study, involving around 2,000 people, found that the vaccine offered "minimal protection" against mild and moderate cases of COVID-19. The government says it will use other vaccines in the meantime.
South Africa on Sunday said it would suspend its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after initial trials showed "disappointing" results against the B.1.351 variant of COVID-19 .
The country has received 1 million doses of the jab. It had planned to start using it to vaccinate front-line healthcare workers from mid-February.
The study, involving around 2,000 people, found that the vaccine offered "minimal protection" against mild and moderate cases of COVID-19. It has not yet been peer-reviewed.
"We have decided to put a temporary hold on the rollout of the (AstraZeneca) vaccine. More work needs to be done," said South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.
Scientists will be studying whether or not the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in preventing severe disease and death against the new variant, Mkhize said.
South Africa still eyes vaccination drive
The government will instead offer vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in the coming weeks.
This newer strain is more infectious and currently accounts for more than 90% of the COVID-19 cases in the country.
South Africa plans to vaccinate at least 67% of its population by the end of the year, or around 40 million people.
It has recorded nearly 1.5 million infections and more than 46,000 deaths from the virus.