South Africa Switches to J&J's 'Silver Bullet' As Astrazeneca Vaccine Falters Against Local Variant of Coronavirus

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The roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine to South Africa's health workers has been temporarily halted following results showing low efficacy against the South African variant of the coronavirus.

South African health workers will now receive the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine, after the Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, on Sunday 7 February announced a major shift in the country's vaccine roll-out.

The shift was necessitated by the publication of what the lead investigator in the Oxford/AstraZeneca trial, Professor Shabir Madhi, said were "disappointing results" showing that the vaccine did not work well against the South African variant of the coronavirus.

The South African variant was first identified in November 2020 in cases from Nelson Mandela Bay. At present, more than 90% of positive cases of coronavirus infections in SA are caused by this variant that has been proven to be more contagious than the original virus.

As South Africa has already received one million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine with an expiry date in April, the deputy director-general of the Department of Health, Anban Pillay, said they are engaging with the Serum Institute in India to find a solution.

Madhi said the data from the...

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