AstraZeneca vaccine has ‘limited efficacy’ against SA variant, rollout halted locally

The country breathed a collective sigh of relief when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa had obtained its first batch of Covid-19 vaccines. A rollout plan had been implemented, with healthcare workers being the first priority. There have been concerns, though, that the vaccine wouldn’t be effective against the variant that was discovered in South Africa late last year. Recently, an Oxford study found the AstraZeneca vaccine to be ‘equally effective’ against new virus strains, but there was still concern around whether it would prove effective against the 501.v2 strain. Recently released trial data shows the AstraZeneca shot ‘has limited efficacy against the mutation that was identified late last year’. According to Bloomberg, the South African government now plans to rollout the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine, which showed more efficacy against the strain. Is this potentially good news for Aspen shareholders? – Jarryd Neves

South Africa to speed up plans to use J&J Covid shot

By Prinesha Naidoo

(Bloomberg) – South Africa plans to fast-track the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine after it showed more efficacy against a new variant that’s prevalent in more than 90% of new cases in the country, according to Glenda Gray, president of the South African Medical Research Council.

The move comes after trial data released Sunday showed that a shot developed by AstraZeneca Plc has limited efficacy against the mutation that was identified late last year. Even though South Africa received its first vaccines this month with the arrival AstraZeneca’s product, its use should temporarily be suspended, Barry Schoub, chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Vaccines, said Sunday in an online briefing.

“The plan is to speak with scientists on how to deal with this going forward,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said during the same presentation.South Africa has secured 9 million doses from Johnson & Johnson and 20 million doses from Pfizer, which were expected to arrive from June and May respectively, the health ministry said last week. Vaccines for health workers from both drugmakers should now arrive within four weeks, according to Mkhize.

Aspen set to benefit from SA’s vaccine rollout if J&J gets green light

Africa’s most industrialised economy has also secured an additional 4.3 million vaccines from the Covax facility, which are due in March.

With almost 1.5 million confirmed cases and more than 46,000 deaths, South Africa is the hardest-hit country on the continent.

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