S.A. halts rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine


08 Febraury 2021

The rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine which had been scheduled to begin in South Africa this month is now on temporary hold.

Yesterday, Health MInister Zweli Mkhize announced that the roll-out will be put on hold until a committee of scientists have decided the way forward.

The government had intended to roll the AstraZeneca shot out to healthcare workers soon, after receiving 1 million doses produced by the Serum Institute of India on February 1, 2021.

Instead, it will offer vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in the coming weeks while experts consider how the AstraZeneca shot can be deployed.

Mkhize told an online news briefing that from next week, for the next four weeks we expect that there will be J&J vaccines and there will be Pfizer vaccines. So what will be available to the health workers will be those vaccines.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine will remain with us … up until the scientists give us clear indications as to what we need to do,” he added.

Wits Professor Shabir Madhi told a media briefing yesterday that results from the trials show that the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against mild and moderate forms of the B.1.351 coronavirus variant first identified in the country. He said it was “disappointing” and a reality check.

Madhi said evidence collected showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine was less effective against the new variant. Before October 31, when the trial began –results had shown that the vaccine was 75% effective with a single dose in 14 days. These same results could not be replicated based on the new variant.

Adapted from original source: IOL