New Delhi: South Africa on Tuesday (February 16, 2021) refuted the claims that the country has asked the Serum Institute of India (SII) to take back its 1 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
South Africa, however, is planning to share the one million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses it received from the SII with other African countries via the African Union (AU), a Reuters report said.
“I would like to clarify a few media reports that said we have returned the vaccines to India. We have not returned the AstraZeneca vaccines to India,” WION quoted South Africa’s Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize as saying.
Mkhize added, “The AstraZeneca doses we purchased have been offered to the African Union platform, of which we are part of, and the AU will distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock.”
He also stated, “I also wish to once again put it on record that the vaccines have not expired and that the expiry date of April was established through our quality control processes – a wrong impression was created that the vaccines have expired – this is simply not true.”
This is to be noted that South Africa had paused the rollout of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine doses this month after preliminary trial data showed they offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the country’s dominant COVID-19 variant.
The country is now likely to administer Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from Wednesday.
“It has been consulting with scientists about what to do with the AstraZeneca vaccine, switching to a plan to start inoculating healthcare workers with J&J’s alternative in a research study,” Reuters reported.
Over 80,000 J&J shots are likely to arrive initially, and up to 5,00,000 health workers could be reportedly immunised in total in the study.
Meanwhile, country’s COVID-19 count has increased to 1.49 million, of which, 1.39 million have recovered, whereas, 48,094 have succumbed to the virus.
In related news, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday gave emergency use approval to AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and allowed its distribution to the world’s poorest countries.
The SII is the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer and has also emerged as a key supplier of the AstraZeneca shot across the world.