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AstraZeneca Vaccine Only ‘Minimally Effective’ Against South African COVID-19 Variant, says Researchers

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Image sourced from TimesLIVE

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has proven ‘minimally effective’ against the South African variant, according to the Wits Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics (VIDA) research unit.

So far, South Africa has received one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

In an official report, researchers from South Africa and the UK found that “viral neutralisation by sera induced by the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 coronavirus vaccine against the B.1.351 coronavirus variant were substantially reduced when compared with the ‘original’ strain of the coronavirus”.

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Professor of Vaccinology at the University of Oxford, Sarah Gilbert revealed that efforts are already underway to develop a new generation of vaccines that could offer protection from emerging variants as booster jabs.

“We are working with AstraZeneca to optimise the pipeline required for a strain change should one become necessary. This is the same issue that is faced by all of the vaccine developers, and we will continue to monitor the emergence of new variants that arise in readiness for a future strain change.”

South Africa to Halt COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

To this end, South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has announced that the vaccine roll out will be halted temporarily.

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

Mkhize goes on to say that the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccination programme will go ahead as planned.

Edited by Jenna Delport

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