TUESDAY, Feb. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Giving a COVID-19 vaccine that’s still being tested to health workers is one option being considered by South Africa after it delayed the introduction of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
That was done because preliminary findings suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine is only minimally effective in preventing mild to moderate cases of illness caused by the coronavirus variant that’s dominant in the country, the Associated Press reported.
Officials are now weighing giving Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose vaccine — which hasn’t been approved by any country — to 100,000 health care workers while assessing how effective it is against the variant.
Another possible option is to mix the AstraZeneca vaccine with another one, the AP reported.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 57% effective in South Africa at preventing moderate to severe COVID-19, according to early findings from an international trial.
“We can’t wait. We already have good local data,” said Dr. Glenda Gray, director of the South Africa Medical Research Council, who led the South African part of the international trial. Like AstraZeneca’s vaccine, it is also easier to handle than the super-frozen vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
South Africa’s strategy is being watched globally because the variant first detected and now dominant there is now spreading in more than 30 countries, the AP reported. Officials say this form of the virus is more contagious, and evidence is emerging that it may also cause more serious disease. Recent studies have also shown it can infect people who have survived the original form of the virus.
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