The AstraZeneca rollercoaster is firing itself up for another journey: After being dismissed as ‘ineffective’ against the previous strain of COVID-19 that dominated infections in SA, the Oxford-produced jab may soon find itself being brought back in from the cold – and it’s all thanks to our rapidly-changing coronavirus landscape.
Could AstraZeneca vaccines return to SA?
AstraZeneca shots were discontinued in South Africa earlier this year, due to its inability to prevent the transmission of the Beta variant. The numbers were much more promising in terms of preventing deaths and hospitalisations, but the ANC government turned their back on the doses – and some also had a short expiry date on them.
The AZ project is seen as one of the biggest failures of South Africa’s ailing vaccine programme – but could the inoculation be in line for a stunning return to our shores? It’s possible, due to the new variant circulating here.
The Delta variant, first discovered in India, is a more transmissible version of COVID-19. It has fuelled a surge in new infections, crippling health services in Gauteng. It is now on its way to becoming THE dominant strain in South Africa – but, unlike the Beta variant first found in Mzansi, AstraZeneca IS effective against this particular form of the virus.
Delta variant ‘changes the game’ for AZ jabs
Real world data shows us that AZ is about 80% successful in preventing the spread of Delta cases – much higher than what was found in clinical trials. Crucially, it can reduce associated hospitalisations and deaths by 90-95%. Therefore, should South Africa need to procure more vaccines, AstraZeneca is very much back in play.
Delta is almost certain to be responsible for a huge majority of new COVID cases over the next few months. Therefore, the government is now mulling its next move – and an improbable return for AstraZeneca may be on the cards.