South Africa is asking the Indian manufacturer of AstraZeneca vaccines to withdraw one million doses

Top line

The South African government has asked drug maker Serum Institute of India (SII) to take back the one million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford Covid-19 vaccines it sent in early February, the Economic Times reported Tuesday, a week after the country’s use of the country was suspended According to preliminary studies, Schusses indicated limited effectiveness against the more contagious local variant of the virus.

The Serum Institute of India had shipped 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to South Africa … [+] Last month.

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Key factors

South Africa received a million doses of the licensed AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine last week, and another 500,000 should arrive over the next few weeks.

The South African health minister previously noted that the vaccines that had arrived from India had an expiration date in April and had asked SII to swap them for doses with later expiration dates.

But after the introduction of the vaccines stopped last week, the minister said the government could sell the doses to other nations.

The country that has not yet started its vaccination program will begin vaccinating health workers with the single dose of Johnson & Johnson as part of an “implementation study” with researchers, although no date has yet been set for its introduction.

The Economic Times report named officials aware of the developments. However, SII has not yet commented on the topic.

Key background

Last week, South Africa halted plans to launch the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine after a preliminary study found the shot offered “minimal protection” against minor illnesses from the contagious variant of the virus spread across the country. This decision was made even though the World Health Organization approved the shot in an emergency so it could be introduced in several poorer countries. The AstraZeneca Oxford shot is currently being rolled out on a large scale in several countries including the UK and India and is approved by the Australian government in an emergency.


SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has become a major supplier of the AstraZeneca shot worldwide. Even the UK, where AstraZeneca is based, is reportedly screening SII’s sites for future orders for the vaccine amid a supply crisis. Last year, SII signed a contract with AstraZeneca to manufacture and sell at the cost of production one billion doses of the Oxford vaccine for India and low and middle income countries during the pandemic. The company has a similar license agreement for Novavax’s vaccine candidate and is currently developing its own vaccine.

further reading

South Africa Asks SII To Take Back 1M Covid Vaccines (Economic Times)

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