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South Africa suspends Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

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South Africa has suspended the use of the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccination.

Tests conducted by the country have shown that the vaccine developed by drug-maker AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford offered only limited protection against mild and moderate disease caused by the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa.

The SA government had planned to roll the Oxford/AstraZeneca shot out to healthcare workers, after receiving 1 million doses.

But it has now decided to offer vaccines developed by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Pfizer.

The University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, which conducted the trial of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said the vaccine “provides minimal protection against mild-moderate COVID-19 infection” from the variant, which is dominant in South Africa.

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But in a response AstraZeneca said none of the 2,000 participants near the age of 31 developed serious symptoms.

That could mean it will still have an effect on severe disease, although there is not yet enough data to make a definitive judgement.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize’s has disclosed that a committee of scientists will advise on the best way to proceed.

According to the Minister decisions will be made based on new information about how the viruses change and mutate.

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