A South African study of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trial has indicated that the vaccine does not have the required 60% efficacy against the variant of the coronavirus found in South Africa.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. This is the first study to raise the alarm that, despite early successes with COVID-19 vaccines, further research is warranted on the next generation of COVID-19 vaccines.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that AstraZeneca still be deployed in countries where the variant circulates, as it likely still protects against hospitalisation and death caused by COVID-19.
The principal investigator in the South African Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trial, Professor Shabir Madhi says they need to exercise caution in interpreting this data.
“Peer review and publication of these results validate the findings and make a compelling case for the development of a second generation vaccine worldwide. However, we also need to exercise caution in interpreting this data. As there is indirect evidence that this vaccine will still protect against severe COVID-19. Even with the variant that dominates in South Africa and the rest of Southern Africa.”
This is what is wrong with AstraZeneca:
Rollout of J&J vaccine
South Africa has been rolling out the single dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine to healthcare workers across the country. The vaccine has been shown to have efficacy against the strain of the virus found in South Africa. Doses of the J&J vaccine have been arriving every Saturday in South Africa for the last few weeks.
Rollout of AstraZeneca in Africa
Meanwhile, several other African nations are pressing ahead with the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, despite some European countries having suspended its use.
Around 14.5 million doses have been delivered to 23 African nations under the global COVAX initiative and many have begun vaccinations.
Health authorities in Uganda and Nigeria say they believe the vaccine is safe.
Somalia received its first batch of doses of the vaccine on Tuesday.
The Department of Health in South Africa halted the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine after studies indicated that the vaccine had 22% efficacy in preventing mild to moderate cases of the COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant in the country.
The use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been paused in 11 European countries after a small number of blood clots were reported among people who had recently had the vaccination.
Germany, France, Italy, and Spain are among the latest to suspend its use.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is investigating the reports but says there is no evidence that the clots were linked to the vaccine.
The UK’s medical regulator also says the vaccine is safe to give to people.
11 European countries pause use of Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine: