February 8, 2021 - 10:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - South African health officials said Sunday, February 7 they're pausing the country's rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine after a study showed it offered reduced protection from the Covid-19 variant first identified there, CNN reports.
During a briefing on Sunday, South Africa Minister of Health Dr. Zweli Mkhize said the hold would be temporary while scientists figure out how to most effectively deploy the AstraZeneca vaccine. Mkhize said South Africa will move forward with the deployment of vaccines made by Pfizer/BioNTech and Johnson & Johnson.
Early data released Sunday suggest two doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine provided only "minimal protection" against mild and moderate Covid-19 from the variant first identified in South Africa.
The study, which has not been released, included about 2,000 volunteers who were an average of 31 years old; about half received the vaccine and half received a placebo, which does nothing.
Viral neutralization against the B.1.351 variant was "substantially reduced" when compared to the earlier coronavirus strain, researchers said in a news release. The vaccine's efficacy against severe Covid-19, hospitalization and death were not assessed.
It was reported earlier that Armenia will be purchasing the AstraZeneca vaccine against coronavirus for 3% of the population. In the first stage of vaccination, priority will be given to people aged over 65, those who have underlying health conditions and medical workers. In the second stage, teachers, educators, employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations, military personnel, employees of the justice sector and public transport, as well as civil servants will get Covid-19 shots. The country will also purchase Russian Sputnik V vaccines.