The government says it has engaged AstraZeneca on issues pertaining to the vaccine doses procured by South Africa from the company and hopes to get more clarity by the end of the week.

Preliminary research suggests it is less effective against the strain that has been discovered in South Africa.

Health Minister Dr. Zweli Mkhize has announced a temporary halt to the roll-out of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine – after studies indicated that the shot only has 22%  efficacy in preventing mild to moderate cases of the variant.

Deputy Director-General of the Health Department Dr. Anban Pillay says the expiry date of the one-million doses procured may be revised by the company.

“We’ve engaged with AstraZeneca, they themselves need to go back and think through how they would want to market this vaccine in the context of this variant. We also raised the issue about the expiry date with them. They’ve certainly indicated that they will come back to us. When you produce your first batch, you have a short expiry, and in this case, it was 6 months because you not really sure how long the vaccine will potentially be stable. So we went back to them to just establish if the current expiry is valid or whether it needs to be extended. But we will hopefully hear from them in the next day or two.”

AstraZeneca not so effective against SA variant: Dr Anban Pillay

SABC’s Neha Poonia gives an update from New Delhi:

IN BRIEF: This is what is wrong with AstraZeneca