AstraZeneca vaccine can still prevent severe disease - Gavi Vaccine Alliance

The global health body said the AstraZeneca vaccine could still prevent severe disease, hospitalisations and death even though its efficacy to immunise against the second strain in South Africa was much lower.

FILE: The University of Oxford and drug manufacturer AstraZeneca have developed a COVID-19 vaccine. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - The Gavi Vaccine Alliance has stressed the importance of being able to adjust to the coronavirus’s evolution.

The global health body said the AstraZeneca vaccine could still prevent severe disease, hospitalisations and death even though is efficacy to immunise against the second strain in South Africa was much lower.

The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) has met to review the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and to discuss the new developments.

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An initial SAGE meeting on the matter produced a positive view for the continuation of the AstraZeneca vaccine rollout, including in settings where variants are circulating.

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WHO's immunisation, vaccines and biologicals director doctor Kate O'Brian said: “It’s very clear that it has efficacy against severe disease, hospitalisations and deaths. Amongst the variants and some variants, there is indication of some reduction in the efficacy, some more, some less - depending which variant and which population.”

READ: SA halts rollout of AstraZeneca vaccine over efficacy against second variant

Gavi Vaccine Alliance CEO doctor Seth Berkley warned that the more a coronavirus was allowed to spread, the more it gained momentum to mutate.

“It’s also clear the trials have to be designed and maintained to allow efficacy to be assessed over time and to be of sufficient scale and diversity to enable clear interpretations of the results.”

WHO director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus will on Tuesday meet with SAGE representatives to get recommendations on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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