South Africa offers AstraZeneca jabs to AU

Wednesday, 17 Feb, 2021

South Africa plans to share 1 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses with other African countries, a senior official said, as a medical association said the first shots from rival Johnson & Johnson could arrive on Tuesday.

Mkhize said the news that the AstraZeneca vaccine had limited efficacy against the variant of the virus first detected in South Africa was "certainly disappointing", but shifting it to fellow African governments would allow the government to recover the cost of the consignment. All five have been quarantined.

Meanwhile, the Brazilian variant or P.1 lineage, has been found in the first week of February in a person who returned from the South American country recently.

ICMR's apex laboratory National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant to understand its way of functioning, transmissibility, and the effect of the vaccine.

He said we know less about that variant - like whether it transmits more easily - but we do know that it evades protection from antibodies, diminishing the protections of prior infections and vaccines.

"The best defense against a rapid rise in cases from variants of concern is to prevent the spread of COVID", the statement said.

Surge testing for the South African variant of Covid-19 is being expanded in several areas across England. "This listing was completed in just under four weeks from the time World Health Organization received the full dossiers from the manufacturers", he said.

Earlier this month, one case of the Brazilian variant, which emerged independently in that country in early January, was reported in India.

South Africa's Minister of Health, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, on December 18, stated that clinicians have been providing anecdotal evidence of a shift in the clinical epidemiological picture- in particular noting that they are seeing a larger proportion of younger patients with no comorbidities presenting with a critical illness, as per an Indian Express report. It also has mutations in the receptor-binding domain of spike protein and has increased transmissibility.

He also added that the flights from South Africa and Brazil to India are routed through Gulf countries, are not direct to India.

V K Paul, member (health) of NITI Aayog, said it was found that over time testing had reduced in Maharashtra, which needs to be ramped up.