South Africa has revealed that it will suspend the rollout of Oxford-AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine following initial trials revealing ‘minimal protection’ against the South African variant of the virus. The study involved approximately 2,000 participants with an average age of 30.
The country had planned to begin its inoculation drive from mid-February, starting with front-line workers. It received a total of 1 million doses of the vaccine earlier this year.
“We have decided to put a temporary hold on the rollout of the (AstraZeneca) vaccine. More work needs to be done,” Zweli Mkhize, South Africa’s Health Minister stated.
The South African government is planning to switch to vaccines produced by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.
However, lead researcher for the Oxford team, Sarah Gilbert told the BBC that “we have a version with the South African spike sequence in the works.”
“It looks very likely that we can have a new version ready to use in the autumn,” she stated.
We do believe our vaccine will still protect against severe disease, as neutralising antibody activity is equivalent to other COVID-19 vaccines that have demonstrated activity against more severe disease, particularly when the dosing interval is optimised to eight to 12 weeks,” AstraZeneca revealed in a statement.