Johannesburg, Feb 10 (efe-epa).- South Africa will restart its halted Covid-19 vaccination program with doses from Johnson & Johnson, according to Health Minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday, after the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was found to be less effective against a new variant currently prevalent in the country.
“We will soon announce more details about the delivery of Johnson & Johnson vaccines in our new rollout strategy. It is likely to be next week, but I cannot yet confirm,” Mkhize said during a press briefing.
Mkhize added that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been proven effective against the 501Y.V2 variant that has taken hold in South Africa, and the necessary approval processes for use in the African country were under way.
This announcement comes several days after South Africa was forced to suspend its vaccine rollout planned for February, after a study showed the AstraZeneca vaccine doses the country had purchased only had limited effect on the 501Y.V2 variant.
The new variant was detected in South Africa in December and has since become the dominant form of the virus circulating in the country. This coronavirus variant is 50 percent more contagious than the original strain but not more deadly, according to the data collected so far.
It is still unknown whether the Oxford vaccine is effective in preventing severe cases of coronavirus because the study only included 2,000 relatively young and healthy trial subjects. South Africa has reported 1,476,135 Covid-19 cases so far, making it the hardest hit country by the pandemic in Africa. EFE-EPA