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SA considering inoculations with 2 different COVID-19 vaccines - Madhi

Wits University professor, Shabir Madhi, said that studies on this method were already under way in the United Kingdom.

A resident of the Anni Azzurri elderly care home in Rome receives a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine as part of the coronavirus vaccination campaign by healthcare workers of Asl Roma 1 on 8 January 2021. Picture: Filippo Monteforte/AFP

CAPE TOWN - South Africa might explore inoculating individuals with two different COVID-19 vaccines.

Wits University professor, Shabir Madhi, said that studies on this method were already under way in the United Kingdom.

Madhi is the chief investigator on the AstraZeneca vaccine trial conducted in the country last year.

He expects some data on the interchangeability of COVID-19 vaccines to start coming through in the next couple of weeks.

"Some individuals who received the AstraZeneca vaccine will probably be receiving the Pfizer vaccine as a second dose and probably within the space of the next six weeks or so, we should get some data with regard to the interchangeability of the vaccine."

On Sunday night, government announced that the use of AstraZeneca's vaccine had been put on hold after data showed that it gave minimal protection against mild-to-moderate infection caused by the dominant variant.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that government would wait for advice from scientists on how best to proceed.

"They'll figure it out and come back to us and say 'let's do the proposal on AstraZeneca'. So, it's a temporary issue. We have to hold onto AstraZeneca until we figure out these issues - what are the next steps supposed to be. When we know those steps, then of course, we'll bring it back."

Mkhize added that government would also make vaccines produced by other pharmaceutical companies available as part of its phase 1 rollout in the weeks to come.

"AstraZeneca is still here with us, we also have J&J and also some from Pfizer. I will not give details as there's quite a lot of discussion and negotiation that we are finalising, but we can say is that we will be able to move on with that."

Discussions are also under way to procure Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for the country.

THIRD WAVE

Meanwhile, Madhi said that we're likely to see a third wave of the pandemic in the country in the next three to four months.

"In the context of knowing that the COVID-19 vaccines, both AstraZeneca and the J&J, are safe and even though there are question marks about the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine against severe disease, do we want to take the risk of not vaccinating high-risk groups now, knowing that we're not going to cause harm, but that we might be protected against severe disease."

WATCH: SA's AstraZeneca vaccine rollout on hold; J&J vaccine effective against variant

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