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South Africa stalls AstraZeneca vaccine campaign after trial found “minimal protection” against new strain



PHOTO: AstraZeneca

South Africa’s rollout of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has been put on pause following reports that it only provides “minimal protection” for the new strain of the virus first detected in South Africa. The country will continue plans to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, developed in partnership with Oxford University, only provides limited protection against the mild variant of Covid-19 detected in South Africa known as B.1.351, according to early data from a trial. South Africa Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize says immunisations using the AstraZeneca vaccine would be put on hold while scientists review the vaccine.

The study was done on 2,000 volunteers who were an average age of 31. Half the group received the vaccine and half received a placebo. A news release from the University of the Witwatersand Johannesburg said researchers found that viral neutralisation by the vaccine against the B.1.351 variant was substantially reduced when compared with the original strain. Researchers did not study the vaccine’s protection against moderate to severe infections.

An AstraZeneca spokesperson says the company is “working closely with the South African Ministry of Health on how best to support the evaluation against severe disease of the B.1.351 variant, and start to bring this vaccine to the South African people should it prove to be successful.”

Thailand has secured 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. With export restrictions imposed by the European Union, the company plans to send a batch of 150,000 doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Thailand from a factory in Asia, due to arrive in March or April.

SOURCES: CNN | Wits University


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  1. dispensed

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    Cross-reactive immunity with other coronaviruses that cause the common cold has been proven to protect against Sarscov2 in many cases. This is the main reason the West is already reaping the benefits of herd immunity despite only 20-30% of the population being infected, though the media would never acknowledge it. It’s probably also the reason the virus never catches on in East Asia.

    If there’s cross reactive immunity with other coronaviruses, I expect the same for different strains of SarsCov2

    • Issan John

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 1:08 pm

      Who has it been “proven” by, dispensed?

      I see there’s no shortage of studies, but I must have missed those saying anything was “proven”.

      I’m a bit confused by how “the West is already reaping the benefits of herd immunity despite only 20-30% of the population being infected.”

      What “benefits of herd immunity” has the West had?

      Hasn’t the West had a pretty high proportion of the numbers affected, hospitalised and dead?

      … and I’m even more confused by why “It’s probably also the reason the virus never catches on in East Asia.” Do people have more colds in China, Japan,Taiwan and Korea than, say, India or the US or Brazil, so they’re more immune to Covid-19?

      • Toby Andrews

        Monday, February 8, 2021 at 11:48 pm

        You see you are asking all these question. if you dispute these assertion from Dispensed prove they are wrong!

        • Issan John

          Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:18 am

          Toby, I’m not interested in “proving they are wrong” any more than I’m interested in proving the moon isn’t made of cheese.

          Dispensed has claimed the points as “proven” so I’m simply asking him who they’re “proven” by.

          I don’t think that’s unreasonable.

          If they’re “proven” then I’ll have learnt something and be considerably better informed, as others may be too.

          If it turns out they’re not “proven”, on the other hand, then I’ll have learnt something else – or at least had it confirmed.

  2. gosport

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 3:29 pm

    Well, It is getting worse now. We need more rice to export. Rice price will be going up. Seems every continent has its own unique variant. The tourism industry sees no future.

  3. Bobby M

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 3:35 pm

    This article is missing what seems to to be a very important fact, unless things have changed overnight or the western media have got it wrong.

    The reporting here is saying that AV is less effective against the more mild version of the South African virus but continues to protect against the more severe reactions to the virus preventing hospitalisation and death.

    Ok you may become infected, you may suffer some symptoms, but not severe. Why would you stop the rollout of something that still protects you from the severe effects of a virus and prevents your health system from collapsing. It doesn’t make sense and if what we are being told in the West is accurate, this editorial is inaccurate, damaging and could end up with people putting themselves at risk of an unnecessary severe infection reaction, hospitalisation and even death.

    • Issan John

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:24 am

      FWIW, what’s reported here is exactly what’s being reported in mainstream Western Media, from DW to France 24, as well as Al Jazeera, etc.

      S Africa has halted the roll out, but not returned the vaccines (due to expire in April). Their choice, and I doubt it was made on the basis of this editorial.

  4. Jim kelly

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Guys.. come on…wake up, small the coffee! this is just another ‘virus’. Deal with it!! i refuse to wear a mask throughout the whole pandemic! my “human right” choice!! Not selfish.. just MY CHOICE!! This whole thing is aimed at the rich and powerful regaining control of the world’s population… BY INSTILLING “FEAR!”…. OF DEATH! It’s a FACT that most of these fatalities would have died of their underlying illness befoire contracting this ‘common cold’. “OH, HE HAS HIV BUT DIED IN HOSPITAL AS A RESULT OF GETTING COVID!” OK… THEN LET’S RECORD HIM AS A COVID 19 DEATH! It’s total balls… HIV was the killer..not covid!
    Why the hell the world doesn’t wake up to this is beyond me. STOP BEING FRIGHTENED…It’s the media and government’s aim to scare the living S@#T out of you…AND IT’S WORKING! BUT NOT ME!!!

    • Gosport

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:15 pm

      Why not try to get it yourself to be the trailblazer?

      • Issan John

        Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:33 am

        Great idea, Gosport.

        Maybe, just to show how much he’s “not selfish” he could go and help out in a hospital Covid ward, and explain to all those with relatives there now dying of HIV, cancer, diabetes and heart conditions that they were going to die anyway and that all the doctors have told them “total balls”.

        I’m sure they’d be suitably impressed.

    • Toby Andrews

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 11:53 pm

      I agree the chances of dying of this virus in Thailand as an infected person is .38 percent.
      Is that a risk that justifies Thailand going bankrupt?

      • Issan John

        Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:37 am

        Only “.38 percent” as long as the vast majority of cases are young, fit and healthy, as they have been due to the atypical demographic – but let’s not worry about that …

  5. Ben

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:23 pm

    Jim, you better stay stateside in a small rural town and hide under your covers and not come out for fear of being controlled. Especially now since your choice for president has lost and can’t protect your rights. Your rant will not hunt in Asia. To many dead people to ignore.

    We’re dealing with a “novel” virus here which is not just another virus. The world is grappling with how to get back to normal by developing a tool kit to deal with this virus. There will be bumps along this road. This virus will mutate and we’ll tweek the vaccines to account for the mutation.

    When our tool kit provides some reasonably good level of protection we’ll return to a new normal. It’ll come sooner than people think but it won’t be perfect. I, for one, am glad we have some great scientists on our side to fight this battle.

  6. Jim kelly

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:25 pm

    SOOOOO, moviNg swiftly on to other more important matters… pssstt, the price of fuel is rising! almost 26 baht per litre for 95!It appears Brent Crude is back to sixty dollars a barrel. Where did that come from?! Oh, Big fat Boris Johnson is struggling as prime minister with one critic saying he’s the worst PM the UK has ever had… worse than Maggie!!! In addition, “ONLINE lurning!”in schools across Thailand has been a complete failure and waste of student’s & teachers’s time! Some druggie beach dude just discovered a 10m baht pearl! the price to keep him away from the “Bangkok Hilton”? 10m baht I expect!… lastly, Pattaya and “Fu-cket” are destined to become “‘ghost cities” if we don’t get FARANG back!!! Ahhh, one last thing…almost forgot.. stupid me (!!) H2O Mineral water in BIG C has gone up in price from 9 baht to 13 baht per bottle!

    • Toby Andrews

      Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 12:00 am

      Water up to 13 Baht a bottle OH MY GARD!
      However more important what is the price of a bottle of Singha in a bar in Pattaya?

  7. Jim kelly

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 8:42 pm

    I’m sorry to say this Ben, but.. It’s your scare-mongering rhetoric and exaggeration of this common cold bug that is (No..HAS!!!!) CRIPPLED OUR FANTASTIC WORLD!!! People, like animals, die all the time…. that’s life and death. Millions upon millions die every year from much worse debilitating and painful illnesses! WE DON’T STOP THE WORLD FOR THOSE POOR VICTIMS!!!!!
    You have become just ‘another brick in the wall’ of all this fear and propaganda … like a sheep following the rest of the herd going to another corner of the field that just looks the same as the other 3 corners!!! I PITY YOU!!!

  8. Ian

    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 11:42 pm

    Jim Ben has good morals I gather from his posts but he doesn’t live in our real world people die people kill each other people are selfish people have hatred need I go on I’ve mentioned to Ben before we would love his world but it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon look over the border at Myanmar the world sucks and nobody is helping Myanmar they just let it happen sometimes I am glad I’m in England only sometimes 555

  9. common sense

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 9:11 am

    Why do I have a feeling that this “new strain” is really a cover name for COVID20 and re-named not to raise any eyebrows from “normies” and lefties and sheople.
    The Wu Flu is BS

  10. Jim kelly

    Tuesday, February 9, 2021 at 10:21 pm

    Common Sense…. you’re so correct… THE “CHINESE VIRUS” IS B@$$ $H1T!”QUICK, QUICK!!! Get a mask!! OOOOOooo, ‘an wash your hands! Errrr? What’s my temperature?!!! Phew!!! I’m safe….until tomorrow!!”
    I can’t be doing with any of this!

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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