Madhi: No data on whether vaccines will work against variant found in India

South Africa has recorded four cases of a coronavirus variant fuelling a devastating surge of infections in the South Asian country.

FILE: A health worker process a COVID-19 antibody test after getting the blood from the patient. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG/ CAPE TOWN - Wits University vaccinology expert professor Shabir Madhi on Sunday said there was still not enough information to tell whether the existing vaccines would be effective against the COVID-19 variant detected in India.

South Africa has recorded four cases of a coronavirus variant fuelling a devastating surge of infections in the South Asian country.

Morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed by the b.1.6-1-7.2 variant while residents have had to rely on ventilators supplied by foreign aid due to dire oxygen shortages.

Madhi said without evidence that the variant was worse in terms of transmissibility and antibody escape than the variant dominating in South Africa, there is no need to panic however the country must remain vigilant.

“And we don’t have data to indicate that the variant first identified in India is going to be more resistant to the first generation of COVID-19 vaccines now detected in South Africa. Irrespective of that, I think we cannot diminish the effectiveness of the vaccines and all of these vaccines will probably work equally well.”

WATCH: Madhi - Third wave expected to be less severe

Meanwhile, Western Cape Community Safety MEC Albert Fritz is calling on all councillors, neighbourhood watches and community policing forums to help spread COVID-19 vaccine awareness.

Ahead of phase two of the vaccination programme, he's encouraged a door-to-door campaign to ensure those eligible to receive the vaccine were well-informed.

Those who are 60 years and older are next in line to receive their jabs.

Spokesperson Wade Seale said: “Neighbourhood watches and community policing forums are powerful tools which we can collectively leverage as we build strong, resilient communities. I would like to invite all our members, along with their councillors, to be at the forefront in this battle in the war against COVID-19. Let’s do this; let’s take the message of hope to our people.”

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