Feb, 10th 2021 – South Africa has turned to Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine following suggestions that the AstraZeneca jabs were less effective against a local variant of the virus. This is part of the South African government’s immunization plan.
According to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, the vaccine will be used to immunize health workers even though it has yet to be approved in South Africa. He further said that it would be deployed as part of an implementation study.
This greatly shows that scientists are also at the forefront of the battle. According to Dr. Kerrin Begg, a public medicine specialist at the University of Cape Town, Soth Africa is experiencing the action of science first hand. He said, “We are experiencing science in real time.”
Since the start of the pandemic, South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million coronavirus cases with more than 46,000 deaths. With these alarming numbers, the country had already received one million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab and was preparing to start vaccinating people.
World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier warned against rushing to the conclusion of how efficient the vaccines are. WHO’s director of immunization Dr. Katherine O’Brien had lauded the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine saying that it still has a strong impact on the new variant in South Africa, therefore, saving lives.
Scientists in the country however call for more study as the vaccine is not effective to almost 90 percent of the virus linked to the new variant. According to a recent study carried out on 2000 people, the data showed that the vaccine was not effective against mild not moderate symptoms of the new variant.
Another study involving 100,000 nurses and other healthcare workers is set to determine whether the vaccine will be effective against the new variant. It is also set to determine whether it can prevent severe illness in older age groups.
Dr. Begg has advised the public to not let their guard down however much the scientists have achieved glo9bally. He said, “Vaccines usually take years to develop because they are amongst the most regulated substances on Earth. But we’re in a position now where many have been passed for safety and are becoming available to the public, that is an incredible achievement.”