5 key takeaways from Mkhize’s urgent update on the now frozen AstraZeneca

Health minister Zweli Mkhize and group of health experts announced on Sunday important updates on COVID-19 vaccines, notably the sudden suspension of AstraZeneca's planned rollout in South Africa. Here are 5 key takeaways from the eagerly awaited briefing.

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Led by minister Zweli Mkhize, a group of health took a deeper look at AstraZeneca’s questionable efficacy and its suspended rollout in South Africa. Here are the 5 key takeaways from the briefing:

  • The procured 1 million AstraZeneca vaccines expires in 2 months (April), but South African health authorities are said to have contacted the Serum Institute in India to see if the expiry can be pushed back or apply for an exchange. This was only discovered when they arrived in SA early this month.
  • Furthermore, there’s no clinical data found to show that AstraZeneca can protect against mild to moderate illnesses caused by the original Covid-19 disease.
  • Sadly, the study also found that AstraZeneca provided almost no protection against the new 501YV2 variant, also known as B.1.351. As such, South Africa has suspended its entire roll-out, along with plans to inoculate its front-line health care workers with the AstraZeneca vaccine until such data is available. 
  • The South African health ministry 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. Johnson & Johnson’s jab appear to have a high efficacy it was revealed, as it provided 89% protection against severe Covid-19 caused by the new 501YV2 variant. 
  • Meanwhile, AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford are said to be currently working towards the creation of the next-generation of COVID-19 vaccines, adapted in this case to target mutations similar to 501YV2, of which strain is said to be 50% more contagious. 
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Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.