Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has described as a terrible setback the temporary halt placed on the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

This is after studies have indicated that the vaccine has a 22% efficacy in preventing mild to moderate cases of the 501.V2 variant in South Africa.

Steenhuisen was delivering the DA’s True State of the Nation Address via a virtual platform.

He is calling on the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to approve a variety of vaccines and for the government not to centralise its procurement so that even the private sector can be able to acquire it.

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“We gotta get out of this situation and to my mind and its been our approach since the beginning of the vaccine process was to say for better approach would be for SAHPRA to approve a variety of vaccines and then take away centralisation of control of government. In terms of procurement of the vaccine what we need is to get as many vaccines as possible and vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible,” says Steenhuisen.

Co-chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Professor Salim Abdool-Karim, has detailed reasons behind the temporary halt in the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Karim says the move is due to uncertainty over how effective current vaccines would be against the stronger coronavirus variant.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said experts are assessing how the AstraZeneca vaccine doses already in the country will be used effectively in the future.

Minister Mkhize says they chose AstraZeneca vaccine due to promising results and its availability: