South Africa suspended its vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on Sunday after a new study found the AstraZeneca vaccine to be less effective against a variant of the virus found in the country.
The World Health Organization will hold a meeting on Monday to discuss the latest developments in South Africa.
The study, conducted by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg and not yet peer-reviewed, concluded that the UK vaccine offers “limited protection against moderate forms of the disease caused by the South African variant in young adults”.
FILE – A volunteer receives an injection from a health worker during the country’s first clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus on June 24, 2020 at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.
The news came as a blow to South Africa, where more than 46,000 people have died from the virus. It was planned to vaccinate its population with a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the coming days. However, the study found that the vaccine was only 22% effective in moderate cases of the South African variant of the disease.
The study did not investigate the effect of the vaccine against severe cases. The variant has been found in at least 32 other countries including the United States.
AstraZeneca said Sunday it was developing another vaccine that would be more effective against the South African variant, which could be expected by the fall.
Millions of Mexicans were frustrated last week when the country’s website launched to register people for coronavirus vaccine appointments. The first group to use the site to schedule appointments were the senior citizens of the country.
One man told the Guardian newspaper that he “fought the website for three days” to get his mother to be vaccinated. He told the newspaper that his mother couldn’t have done it without me.
FILE – Health care workers wait in line outside General Hospital to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 on the first day of coronavirus vaccinations in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Jan. 13, 2021. (AP Photo / Christian Chavez)
The site’s shaky start is daunting for a country with the third highest number of deaths from the coronavirus. Mexico has more than 166,200 COVID deaths. Only Brazil and the US have more with 231,534 and 463,477 respectively, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
The US continues to be at the top of Hopkins’ list for the most COVID infections. There are now more than 27 million cases in the United States, followed by India with 10.8 million and Brazil with 9.5 million.
Iran, China announce new vaccines
Over the weekend, both Iran and China unveiled new vaccines against the virus. On Sunday, Iran announced it had developed the Razi Cov Pars vaccine manufactured by the Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute. Scientists will start testing the vaccine on humans this week.
On Saturday, China’s National Medical Products Administration said in a statement that regulators were stopping the use of CoronaVac, which is produced by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. was developed, approved on Friday.
FILE – An employee works during a media tour of a new COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing factory in Sinovac in Beijing, China on Sept. 24, 2020.
It is the second vaccine approved for public use in the East Asian country. The first vaccine developed by a Chinese institute affiliated with the state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group, Sinopharm, was approved two months ago.
The Sinovac vaccine, which is given in at least five other countries, was approved last July for high-risk individuals such as healthcare workers and government employees in an emergency.
The conditional approval of the vaccine allows it to be used by the general public while research continues. The company must provide up-to-date data and reports of any adverse effects after the vaccine is sold.
More than 59 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been distributed in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sunday. As of Sunday morning, more than 41 million doses of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines had been given, with more than 31.5 million people receiving the first vaccination, according to the CDC. More than 9 million people received their second dose.