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South Africa Halts AstraZeneca Vaccine After Study Questions Effectiveness Against Variant

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South Africa has suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine on front-line workers after a small trial suggested it isn’t effective against the country’s dominant variant.

What We Know:

  • The small study tested 2,000 people, most of which were young and healthy as the average age was 31. The study has yet to be peer-reviewed.
  • The study suggests that the AstraZeneca vaccine offers only “minimal protection against mild-moderate disease” against the Covid-19 variant in prominent in South Africa. This variant is said to be more infectious and now accounts for more than 90 percent of the Covid cases in the country, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize.

“The AstraZeneca vaccine appeared effective against the original strain but not against the variant,” Mkhize said. “We have decided to put a temporary hold on the rollout of the vaccine. … More work needs to be done.”

  • According to NBC News, the country received its first 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine last week and was expected to be administered to healthcare workers beginning mid-February. Mkhize stated that South Africa will begin rolling out other vaccines to inoculate as many people as possible in the coming months. Scientists have said that clinical trials for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are showing promising results against the new variant.
  • The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine’s lead researcher, Sarah Gilbert, told the BBC on Sunday that their developers expect to have a modified shot to combat the country’s variant by autumn.
  • Moreover, South African health officials are concerned about this variant because it includes a mutation of the coronavirus’s spike protein, which is targeted by existing vaccines. However, officials say the variant is more contagious, and evidence is emerging that symptoms may be more severe.

The disappointing early trial results have far-reaching implications as countries around the globe have been depending on the AstraZeneca vaccine for use in the near future. One of the countries is England, where more than 100 cases of the South African variant have been found.

The post South Africa Halts AstraZeneca Vaccine After Study Questions Effectiveness Against Variant appeared first on Black News Alerts.

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