South Africa Calls Off Vaccine Roll-Out On Doubts Over Astrazeneca Jab

South Africa has delayed the start of its AstraZeneca inoculation programme over concerns the shot does not work against a new Covid-19 variant. World Health Organization experts are to meet to discuss the vaccine, which is already playing a reduced role in several European nations due to questions over its efficacy in older patients.

Experimental results suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine provides only “minimal” protection against mild to moderate Covid-19 caused by a highly contagious new variant first detected in South Africa.

This is a major setback for the global fight against the pandemic, as many poorer nations are relying on the transport and storage advantages offered by the AstraZeneca shot.

Unlike the rival Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require super-cold conditions, AstraZeneca’s can be stored in a domestic fridge.

Pretoria halts campaign on concerns

South Africa, the continent’s hardest-hit nation, was due to start its campaign in the coming days with the AstraZeneca injection.

The Pretoria government has now decided to hold off in light of the results from the trial conducted by the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

“It’s a temporary issue…we have to hold on AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters on Sunday.

On Sunday, February 7, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and a panel of leading experts hosted a media briefing to outline new developments in South Africa’s #COVID19 vaccine acquisition and rollout programme.