SA reconsidering AstraZeneca shots for Delta variant

South Africa is considering buying more AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines to combat the spread of the Delta variant of the illness, four months after selling 1 million of the doses.

The government may approach the Serum Institute of Indiafor the shots, Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla told lawmakers on Wednesday. Acquiring the vaccines could help bolster supplies as the health regulator considers approving Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac inoculations, he said.


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“I hope that we will still be able to access further stock from AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute,” Phaahla said. “That will go a long way while we are looking at the other sources.”

The government sold 1 million AstraZeneca doses to the African Union in March, after research showed the Beta variant then dominant in the country was resistant to the shot. The Delta variant first identified in India is currently running rampant in South Africa and is as much as 60% more transmissible than other strains, including the Beta variant, first identified in the African nation last year.

Data presented by the government on June 26 showed that the AstraZeneca vaccine has more than 70% efficacy against the Delta strain. In February, University of the Witwatersrand Professor of Vaccinology Shabir Madhi said vaccine had an efficacy of about 20% in preventing mild disease when dealing with the Beta virus.

“We don’t want to go back to the original argument of whether its limited efficacy on the Beta variant was correct, to dispose of it, to sell it to other countries,” Phaahla said. “With the current information that it is quite efficacious when it comes to the Delta, it is already registered.”

© 2021 Bloomberg