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SA asks Serum Institute to take back 1m AstraZeneca vaccines - report

The Economic Times in India is reporting that the South African government has approached the Serum Institute of India asking it to take back the one million AstraZeneca vaccines.

Deputy President David Mabuza and President Cyril Ramaphosa celebrate the arrival of the first million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at OR Tambo International Airport on 1 February 2021. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has reportedly asked India's Serum Institute to take back the one million AstraZeneca vaccines that arrived earlier this month.

The request comes off the back of a small local study which found that the vaccine provided minimal protection against mild to moderate COVID-19 in patients infected with the second variant of the virus.

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

Just last week, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that government had been contacted by other countries who were interested in swopping or buying the jabs from South Africa.

The Economic Times in India is reporting that the South African government has approached the Serum Institute of India asking it to take back the one million AstraZeneca vaccines.

READ MORE: J&J vaccine effective against COVID-19 variant - Glenda Gray

Minister Mkhize last week met with the World Health Organization (WHO) to discuss the way forward after the findings of the small study were made public.

This is what he had to say then: "What happens to the money used to buy AstraZeneca? We don't intend to claim it back. We intend to use the vaccine based on the advice of our experts."

The WHO has given the AstraZeneca vaccine the green light for emergency use.

The first batch of one million vaccine vials are still in storage here in South Africa and it's not yet clear whether the Serum Institute will agree to take them off our hands.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Health Department, which was not available for comment or clarity by the time this article was published.

Editors' note: On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize confirmed that speculation that the vaccines would be returned to India weren't true. You can read the rest of that article here.

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

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