South Africa returns AstraZeneca vaccines after suspending them

After putting their vaccination campaign on hold, the South African authorities have decided to return a large batch of AstraZeneca vaccines to the manufacturer because of their “minimal” protection against the variant, which is rampant in the country. The vaccination campaign is stalling.

South Africa has asked the Serum Institut of India (SII), the world’s largest vaccine maker, to take back its batch of AstraZeneca vaccines sent earlier, Indian media outlet The Economic Times reports.

This batch of one million vaccines was sent by the ISS in February, while another batch of 500,000 doses is arriving on South African soil, the newspaper said.

Previously, the country’s Minister of Health had already indicated that the country could return its AstraZeneca vaccines.

For now, South Africa is opting for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but has not yet started its vaccination campaign.

“Minimum” protection

South Africa suspended its vaccination program on February 7 following the publication of a study from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, revealing “minimal” effectiveness against mild forms of the South African variant of Covid- 19.

According to data from phase III clinical trials, the AstraZeneca vaccine is 76% effective. The British laboratory has obtained conditional or emergency marketing authorization for its vaccine in more than fifty countries. The day before, the AstraZeneca vaccine had been urgently approved by the WHO, which opens the way for the vaccination of inhabitants of disadvantaged countries and previously deprived of immunization.

The South African government had imposed a lockdown from March to May 2020 and reintroduced it in December. The country hopes to vaccinate 40 million people or two-thirds of its population.

According to data from February 15, the daily increase in confirmed cases of Covid in the country is 5,980. In total, the country has 272,302 confirmed cases, more than 10,000 deaths are to be deplored.

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