South Africa suspends the start of its vaccination campaign against Covid 19

As the first doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the country last week, a local study involving 2,000 volunteers – but not yet published in a scientific journal – has just shown fewer efficacies on the “501Y.V2” variant discovered in the country. The government therefore announced on Sunday evening, February 7, the revision of its vaccination strategy.
The study, conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and not yet peer-reviewed, shows that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is less effective for moderate forms of the disease caused by the local variant. The results are disappointing, despite the fact that the local variant accounts for more than 90 percent of new infections in the country, according to the researchers. The vaccine is reported to be only 22 percent effective for mild forms, with no results available so far for severe forms.
This is a setback for the government, as it is currently the only vaccine that has arrived in the country, and it was expected to be used to vaccinate health care workers as a priority within the next few days. The Minister of Health has suspended its use and is now relying on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine, which shows much better clinical results against the variant. The first doses, along with doses of Pfizer vaccine, are expected within four weeks.
As for the one million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that the country now has, the government is waiting for more indications from scientists before making a decision on their use. But it will have to be done quickly, as they will be out of date beyond April.