Prof Abdool Karim outlines future usage of AstraZeneca vaccine in SA

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The co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool Karim has outlined the future usage of the AstraZeneca vaccine in South Africa, saying more needs to be done to further assess its efficacy.

A temporary halt has been placed in the roll-out of the AstraZeneca doses after studies indicated that the vaccine has 22% efficacy in preventing mild to moderate cases of the 501.Y.V2 variant in South Africa.

Karim says the AstraZeneca vaccine needs to be assessed whether it is effective against severe COVID-19 related illnesses.

“The doses that we have should be used. But they should be used in a manner that we can first assess if it is effective against severe disease and hospitalisation. Once we can answer that question, when the first 100 000 or so have been vaccinated. If the answer is yes, it reduces hospitalisation substantially, then we proceed and use up the rest.”

“If it doesn’t, then we need to go back to the drawing board because then we need to wait for the booster doses to become available, or to switch to a different vaccine,” explains Abdool Karim.

Click on the audio file below to listen to the full interview:

The Department of Health says a batch of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine doses is expected to arrive in the country next week.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has described as “disturbing” the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) report into the extent of PPE tender corruption in the country.

He says in modern times, he didn’t foresee his government officials being deeply involved in corruption with the intention to steal from the public purse during a difficult time of COVID-19.

In his weekly newsletter, on Monday, Ramaphosa says it is embarrassing to learn that, as scores of people became ill and many were dying, some people saw an opportunity to cash in.

The SIU report, released last week, further shows that it is individuals and entities with no experience in the manufacture, supply, or distribution of critical medical supplies hastily set up companies that defrauded government.

Ramaphosa has warned that those implicated in PPE tender corruption will face the music.

“All those involved in wrongdoing will be dealt with harshly and appropriately. They will not get to enjoy their ill-gotten gains, as steps have been taken to recover stolen money, including the freezing of bank accounts,” adds the President.

He says a coordinated approach to fighting corruption that brings in several organs of State, will soon be put in place.

In the video below, SIU briefs the media on investigations into alleged COVID-19 PPEs procurement corruption: