Corona vaccine: South Africa stops vaccinations with AstraZeneca

Status: 02/08/2021 10:46 a.m.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is here and South Africa wanted to start vaccinating in mid-February. But the effectiveness against the mutation of the coronavirus is apparently limited – so the country is stopping the vaccinations for the time being.

Due to doubts about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine, South Africa does not want to vaccinate health care workers and carers with the vaccine for the time being. Last week, AstraZeneca shipped the first million vaccine doses to the country.

Hardly any effect against mutated virus?

But a study now arouses concern that the vaccine against the variant of the coronavirus, which has been detected for the first time in South Africa, shows only “minimal effect” in protecting against mild disease courses. This was announced by the British University of Oxford, which was involved in the development of the active ingredient.

About 2000 young and healthy test subjects took part in the study. The effect in a severe course of the disease after infection with the mutation was not checked, according to the universities of Oxford and Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Because of their young age, the participants in the study did not belong to the risk groups who usually became more seriously ill from an infection. The study has yet to be independently reviewed.

90 percent of all infections are now due to mutation

The original plan was for South Africa to begin administering the AstraZeneca vaccine to medical and nursing staff by the middle of this month. But according to the South African Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize, more than 90 percent of corona infections are now due to the mutation.

The South Africa mutation is already spreading in other countries as well, albeit not nearly as strongly. Great Britain has reported around 100 cases so far in which there was an infection with the South African variant B.1.351. Around 30 cases have been detected in Germany so far. The mutation is said to be significantly more contagious than the originally discovered corona pathogen.

AstraZeneca plans to develop a new version of the vaccine

AstraZeneca now wants to develop a new version of its vaccine that also offers high protection against the South African mutation. This new version of the vaccine could be operational by the fall, said Sarah Gilbert, the lead scientist on the research team at Oxford University.

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