The World Health Organisation says the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has shown efficacy against severe diseases to prevent hospitalisation and death.
This comes as a recent study revealed that there was minimum protection in mild to moderate infections of the 501y.v2 strain – which was first identified in South Africa.
The South African government has halted the rollout of the vaccination programme to better understand how the vaccine reacts to the locally found strain.
WHO Director General, Tedros Ghebreyesus says the AZ vaccine can be administered by countries to alleviate pressure on hospital systems.
He says, however, manufacturers of vaccines will have to continuously work on creating boosters to help fight the mutations of the virus:
“We know that viruses mutate and we know that we have to be ready to adapt vaccines so they remain effective. This is what happens with flu vaccines which are updated twice a year to match the dominant strains. The WHO has an existing mechanism for tracking and evaluating variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 It’s vital that countries continue to report this variants to WHO so we can coordinate global efforts to monitor the impact and advise countries accordingly.”