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South Africa suspends AstraZeneca jab launch over study

South Africa suspends AstraZeneca jab launch over study

WORLD: South Africa said yesterday (Feb 7) it would suspend the start of its COVID-19 vaccinations with the AstraZeneca jab - which forms a major plank of Thailand’s vaccination strategy and is to be produced by Siam BioScience in Bangkok - after a study showed the drug failed to prevent mild and moderate cases of the virus variant that has appeared in Africa’s hardest-hit nation.

CoronavirusCOVID-19drugshealth
By AFP

Monday 8 February 2021, 10:50AM


South African law enforcement agancies block motorists in Johannesburg on Feb 1, 2021 to make the highway clear for refrigerated trucks transporting AstraZeneca vaccines for the COVID-19 coronavirus that arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Photo: AFP file.

South African law enforcement agancies block motorists in Johannesburg on Feb 1, 2021 to make the highway clear for refrigerated trucks transporting AstraZeneca vaccines for the COVID-19 coronavirus that arrived at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Photo: AFP file.

South Africa was due to start its campaign in the coming days with a million doses of the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford.

The suspension marks an important setback for the country, but officials said vaccine deliveries from other producers would soon be available and allow the campaign to move forward.

“It’s a temporary issue that we have to hold on AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters during a virtual press conference.

The University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, which conducted the trial, said in a statement yesterday that the AstraZeneca vaccine “provides minimal protection against mild-moderate COVID-19 infection” from the South African variant.

But in a full paper due to be published today, AstraZeneca said that none of the 2,000 participants developed serious symptoms.

That could mean it will still have an effect on severe illness, although not enough data is available yet to make a definitive judgment.

Lagging behind in the global vaccination race, South Africa received its first delivery of a million doses today.

An additional 500,000 doses are expected this month.

All are AstraZeneca vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India, and some 1.2 million health workers were to be first in line for the shots.

“In the next four weeks, we will have the J&J and Pfizer,” said Mkhize, referring to vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer/BioNTech.

Discussions with other vaccine producers are also ongoing, particularly Moderna and the makers of the Russian Sputnik V jab.

QSI Cooking 2021

Mkhize recently announced having reserved 20 million Pfizer/BioNTech doses.

The 1.5 million AstraZeneca vaccines obtained by South Africa, which will expire in April, will be kept until scientists give clear indications on their use, he said.

“The second generation of the vaccine to fight all variants will take longer to produce,” said Salim Abdool Karim, epidemiologist and co-chair of the scientific committee at the South African health ministry.

South Africa plans to vaccinate at least 67% of its population by the end of the year, or around 40 million people.

The country has recorded nearly 1.5 million infections and more than 46,000 deaths from the virus.

Protection against deaths’

The AstraZeneca study data, which has not yet undergone peer review, “appear to confirm the theoretical observation that mutations in the virus seen in South Africa will allow ongoing transmission of the virus in vaccinated populations”, it said.

“Protection against moderate-severe disease, hospitalisation or death could not be assessed in this study as the target population were at low risk.”

But the vaccine developers in Britain said informally that the results offered some hope that the shots could prevent deaths from the variant.

“We may not be reducing the total number of cases but there is still protection against deaths, hospitalisations and severe disease,” said Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the vaccine with the Oxford Vaccine Group.

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Christy Sweet | 08 February 2021 - 22:46:12

Captain Jack, That you display your  ignorance so publicly  is astounding. Your claim is  pure BS which a cursory search on Google would show you-if you cared at all about facts- let me guess Q Anon adherent ? Come on TPN don't spread BS  

CaptainJack69 | 08 February 2021 - 12:35:18

Because lets not forget that COVID is really just a particularly potent mutation of the flu virus. So a mild case of COVID is literally just the flu. So yes it sucks to have, but really doesn't justify shutting the world down.

 

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