KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 8 — South Africa has stopped using the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccine as it has much less efficacy against the new South African variant of the coronavirus.
STAT reported that a trial study in the country revealed that the vaccine provides less protection from mild and moderate sickness caused by the South African variant.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine rollout needs to be put on a temporary halt while we get the clinical efficacy information in,” Salim Abdool Karim, an epidemiologist at Columbia University and part of a commission advising the South African government, was quoted as saying.
The temporary halt has paved the way for the country to initiate new methods to conduct early research on the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa.
“I think we just need to maybe suspend use of AstraZeneca, but investigate it more and more fully to see, can we utilise it more effectively,” Barry Schoub, chair of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on vaccines was quoted saying.
Studies conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand stated that the AstraZeneca shot, the world’s cheapest and widely available vaccine, reduced mild Covid-19 cases by up to 75 per cent before the B.1.351 variant became common in South Africa. However, the vaccine only reduced mild cases by 22 per cent after the variant became prevalent.
It is to be noted that the study that was conducted in South Africa only involved a small fraction of the country’s Covid-19 patients and have not yet been peer-reviewed.