Coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University is ineffective in preventing mild and moderate cases of South African strain of COVID-19, South African researchers have claimed.
According to a statement by the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine offers minimal protection against mild and moderate cases resulting from the South African variant of the virus.
Known as 501.V2 or B.1.351, the mutated strain accounts for South Africa’s 90% of the 1.4 million infections and 46,000 deaths since the pandemic began.
South Africa had procured 1 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford and was set to start a mass vaccination campaign later this week.
However, South African Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, has postponed the countrywide vaccination drive in light of the findings of Witwatersrand researchers.
During an online press briefing, the South African Minister said that the government is waiting for further advice from experts on how to proceed with the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine.
He added that the government will launch the vaccination campaign in the coming weeks after procuring Coronavirus vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer in the coming weeks.
On the other hand, Prof. Sarah Gilbert, AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine chief, has said that the vaccine offers protection against severe Coronavirus disease.
She added that work is well underway to deliver a modified AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine in the next few months to combat the South African variant.