Friday, February 26, 2021

India’s Serum Institute asked to take back 1 million vaccine doses by South Africa

The vaccine appears to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African Covid-19 variant.

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South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back the one million Covid-19 vaccine doses the manufacturer sent in early February.

The Economic Times reported the request on Tuesday, a week after the country said it will put on hold use of AstraZeneca’s shot in its vaccination programme.

One million doses of the vaccine landed in South Africa last week and another 500,000 are due to arrive in the next few weeks.

The Serum Institute did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

South Africa paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed AstraZeneca’s shot offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the highly contagious 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country.

AstraZeneca has said its vaccine appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant, based on data from a study by South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand and Oxford University.

South Africa has yet to launch its vaccination programme, and has now decided to start vaccinating health workers with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine as an “implementation study” trial with researchers.

The Economic Times report comes as the World Health Organization on Monday listed the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use.

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