“The AU will distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock,” South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize instructed lawmakers in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Mkhize stated that rumors the pictures, which had been bought from the Serum Institute of India (SII), had expired and had been being returned to India had been “simply not true,” and no cash was wasted.
“The recent announcement around the limited efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which we had already procured, was certainly disappointing; however we were determined not to be derailed from our commitment to rollout vaccines in February,” Mkhize stated.
The well being minister introduced that the nation had as an alternative secured 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
“We have actually secured enough doses to vaccinate all the people who will need to be vaccinated in South Africa,” stated Mkhize.
South Africa is anticipated to green-light the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and start administering doses this week.
The rollout marks a 180-degree pivot by South Africa, which had obtained 1 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine and deliberate to start administering doses to well being care staff in February. Another 500,000 Oxford-AstraZeneca doses had been because of be delivered by the top of the month.
Instead, South Africa has switched to a brand new plan. It will begin vaccinating well being care staff with Johnson & Johnson pictures in a analysis examine. Officials will administer pictures to well being staff at 20 vaccination facilities in every of the nation’s 9 provinces. More than 380,000 well being staff have registered to date.
The first batch of 80,000 Johnson & Johnson pictures are anticipated to this week, with supply of 500,000 doses within the subsequent 4 weeks, Mkhize stated. That might be supplemented by an extra 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, anticipated in late March.
South Africa has been consulting with scientists about what to do with the AstraZeneca vaccine following information that two doses supplied “substantially reduced” safety in opposition to delicate to reasonable Covid-19 illness from the B.1.351 variant.
Seven different international locations at the moment are reporting the B.1351 variant in Africa — together with Ghana, Kenya, Comoros, Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.
It was not clear from the examine, which has not but been peer reviewed, whether or not the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine protected in opposition to extreme illness from the B.1.351 variant. The 2,000 medical trial members had been largely younger wholesome adults and due to this fact unlikely to develop into severely unwell. But primarily based on immune responses detected of their blood samples, the researchers stated there was “still some hope” that the vaccine may defend in opposition to extra extreme instances.
AstraZeneca just lately stated it’s working with Oxford University to adapt the vaccine in opposition to the B.1.351 variant and that it will advance it via medical improvement to make it “ready for autumn delivery should it be needed.”
Professor Salim Abdool Karim, who’s a co-chair of South Africa’s Covid-19 advisory committee, had initially instructed CNN that the nation would possible undertake a “stepped approach,” wherein they assessed the influence of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as it’s rolled out. But it seems that the nation has now scrapped that technique fully.
In regard to the long run function of Oxford-AstraZeneca in South Africa, Mkhize stated solely that well being officers would proceed to be guided by specialists and led by science.
It’s an enormous blow for the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been hailed for its low price and straightforward storage as one of many world’s finest hopes for defeating the virus.
The COVAX program — a coalition that features Gavi and the World Health Organization with the goal of distributing Covid-19 vaccines to poorer international locations — is reliant on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
Earlier this month, COVAX introduced a plan to distribute greater than 337 million Covid-19 vaccine doses worldwide — of which 336 million doses are the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine and simply 1.2 million doses are the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
“While a vaccine that protects against all forms of Covid-19 illness is our biggest hope, preventing severe cases and hospitalizations which overwhelm hospitals and health systems is crucial,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, stated at a information briefing Thursday.
The second wave of Covid-19 in Africa, which peaked in January, was extra lethal than the primary wave, in response to Dr. Moeti.
With the rollout of vaccines, “if cases remain mostly mild and moderate and don’t require critical care then we can save many lives,” she added.
CORRECTION: An earlier model of this story incorrectly implied that the Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine had 57% efficacy in opposition to extreme sickness and demise in trials in South Africa, slightly than in opposition to reasonable to extreme illness. This has been corrected. Additionally, the story has additionally been up to date to incorporate extra particulars in regards to the proportion of B.1.351 variant instances reported within the trial.
CNN’s David McKenzie contributed to this report.