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Africa to continue with AstraZeneca vaccination program

By Caoimhe Toman

Date: Thursday 11 Feb 2021

LONDON (ShareCast) - (Sharecast News) - The African Union's disease control body said on Thursday that it would continue using the AstraZeneca Covid19 vaccine, after trial data showed it had greatly reduced efficacy against the coronavirus variant dominant in South Africa.
African countries are due to receive 100m doses of the AstraZeneca shot in 2021 as part of an AU vaccine plan.

According to a report from Reuters, Africa CDC Director John Nkengasong told a news conference on Thursday that there was still work needed to understand the vaccine's response to the South African variant of the virus.

"For countries that have not reported the circulation of the 501Y.V2 variant, we recommend that they proceed with the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine," Nkengasong said.

"For countries that have reported the circulation of the 501Y.V2 variant, we recommend the acceleration of their preparedness to introduce all vaccines that have received emergency use authorisation or approval by regulatory authorities. Consideration should be given to the effectiveness of the vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant."

There are six other countries in the continent that have registered cases of the local variant: Botswana, Comoros, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique and Zambia.

Nkengasong added that the Africa CDC would be carrying out its own tests of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Nevertheless, despite the AU saying that it would continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine, South Africa halted the AstraZeneca vaccination plan on health workers and said on Wednesday it's open to selling doses of the vaccine or swapping them for other vaccines.

Kenya announced on Thursday that it would be going ahead with its plan to inoculate its citizens against Covid-19 using a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.

The country expects to receive 24m doses of the vaccine beginning this month, reported Reuters.