Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC
Picture: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC

SA could buy more AstraZeneca vaccines to combat the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, four months after selling 1-million of the doses.

The government may approach the Serum Institute of India for the shots, deputy health minister Joe Phaahla told lawmakers on Wednesday. Acquiring the vaccines could help bolster supplies as the health regulator considers approving Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac inoculations, he said.

“I hope that we will still be able to access further stock from AstraZeneca from the Serum Institute,” Phaahla said. “That will go a long way while we are looking at the other sources.”

The government sold 1-million AstraZeneca doses to the AU in March, after research showed the Beta variant then dominant in the country was resistant to the vaccine. The Delta variant, first identified in India, is now rampant in SA and up to 60% more transmissible than other strains, including the Beta variant first identified locally last year.

Data presented by the government on June 26 shows that the AstraZeneca vaccine has more than 70% efficacy against the Delta strain. In February, Wits University’s professor vaccinology, Shabir Madhi, said the vaccine had an efficacy of about 20% in preventing mild disease when dealing with the Beta virus.

“We don’t want to go back to the original argument of whether its limited efficacy on the Beta variant was correct, to dispose of it, to sell it to other countries,” Phaahla said. “With the current information that it is quite efficacious when it comes to the Delta, it is already registered.”

Bloomberg News. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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