Why is South Africa returning COVID-19 vaccine to India after clinical trials?

The move has been taken due to limited effectiveness of the vaccine against the virus's South African strain.

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South Africa
South Africa to not use Serum’s Covid-19 vaccine.

South Africa has asked the Indian Serum Institute to take back the one million coronavirus vaccine doses the company had sent last week.

According to a report published in The Economic Times, “A week after receiving the doses, the African country said it would pause the use of AstraZeneca’s shot in its vaccination program.”

The move has been taken due to limited effectiveness of the vaccine against the virus’s South African strain.

The Health Minister of South Africa, Dr. Zweli Mkhize, has said the government might sell AstraZeneca’s vaccine doses, after the country paused its roll-out following a small clinical trial.

The trial showed the vaccine offered just a minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y—V2 COVID-19 variant that is dominant in the country.

However, the company said it had no comments on the matter.

The Serum Institute of India delivered one million doses of the vaccine in early February, and another 500,000 were due to arrive in the next few weeks.

South Africa is yet to launch its Covid-19 vaccination program. The country has decided to start vaccinating health workers with the Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.

The Economic Times report also comes after the WHO listed the AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use, earlier this week. 

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