The South African government apparently was purportedly considering a return of COVID-19 vaccine product to the manufacturer in India in exchange for a refund as that government’s intentions were shared in the press—but were the reports accurate? South Africa, according to press accounts, sought to return one million COVID-19 vaccine doses procured from the Serum Institute of India (SII), the manufacturer for the Oxford vaccine in this part of the world. AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company with the commercial rights assigned from University of Oxford, inked the deal with SII to produce the vaccine product in many parts of the world. But because a recent study reported on by TrialSite revealed that the Oxford vaccine offers minimal protection to the 501Y.V2 or “South African” variant of the virus, this country, which has yet to launch its COVID-19 vaccine campaign, moved America’s Johnson & Johnson to the front of the vaccination line. Once vaccination commences, they will start with health workers as part of an “implementation study.” However, another recent update from the Economic Times reports they won’t seek a refund and would rather share the vaccines with other African countries in need.
While South Africa was purportedly preparing to send AstraZeneca/Oxford product back to its manufacturer in India, the World Health Organization (WHO) went ahead and listed the vaccine as now available for emergency use, reports The Economic Times.
The tensions started when the University of Witwatersrand recently reported that after a study involving about 2,000 volunteers, the investigational team found that a two-dose regimen of the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 (AZD1222 or the Oxford vaccine) unfortunately provides minimal protection against mild-moderate COVID-19 infection associated with the B.1.351 variant associated with South Africa.