Breaking News
0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your Investing.com experience. Save up to 40% More details

Global health officials back AstraZeneca vaccine after South Africa study rings alarm

CoronavirusFeb 08, 2021 02:36PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
 
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: COVID-19 vaccinations in Newcastle upon Tyne

By John Revill

GENEVA (Reuters) - Health officials around the world gave their backing to the AstraZeneca (NASDAQ:AZN) vaccine against COVID-19, after a study showing it had little effect against mild disease caused by the variant now spreading quickly in South Africa rang global alarm.

The prospect that new virus variants could evolve the ability to elude vaccines is one of the main risks hanging over the global strategy to emerge from the pandemic by rolling out vaccines this year.

South Africa, where a new variant now accounts for the vast bulk of cases, initially announced a pause in its rollout of a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

But it said on Monday it could still roll it out in a "stepped manner", giving out 100,000 doses and monitoring it to see if it prevents hospitalisations and deaths.

"It is vastly too early to be dismissing this vaccine," said Richard Hatchett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, a foundation that co-leads the global COVAX programme to provide vaccine doses in poor countries.

More than 330 million doses of AstraZeneca's vaccine form the overwhelming majority of doses that COVAX aims to begin rolling out in a first phase in poor countries beginning as soon as this month.

"Obviously the world is full of the wild type virus that this Astrazeneca (LON:AZN) vaccine is known to work against," Hatchett said.

Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of South Africa’s Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, said it was too early to conclude that the AstraZeneca would not prevent serious disease caused by the variant prevalent there.

If the vaccine does not work well against new evolving variants of the virus, it could be an ominous sign for other vaccines as well, showing that the virus can potentially thwart the efforts of scientists to fight it.

The overall message from the World Health Organization and others was: don't panic. Several global health officials noted that the South African study was small and had tested the vaccine using a short four-week interval between the first and second doses, despite evidence having since emerged that it works better if there is a longer wait.

It was becoming "more and more clear, the longer the interval between the two doses the higher the efficacy," said Kate O'Brien, head of immunisations at the WHO.

The lead investigator on the South African trial told Reuters he believed the vaccine had a major role to play in Africa and globally, and the 1 million doses in South Africa, which expire in April, should be rolled out quickly, not wasted.

SERIOUS INFECTIONS

Western governments spoke out in favour of the vaccine, which many have given approval.

The vaccine is the main pillar of the vaccination programme in Britain, which has so far been the fastest of any large country to vaccinate members of the public. It is dealing mainly with another fast-spreading variant which the vaccine has been shown to work well against.

"We think that both the vaccines that we're currently using are effective in, as I say, in stopping serious disease and death," British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters. Britain is also using Pfizer (NYSE:PFE)'s vaccine.

Olivier Veran, health minister in France which is hoping that the vaccine will held speed up a programme that has lagged behind other rich countries, said the AstraZeneca vaccine provided sufficient protection against "nearly all the variants" of the virus.

But if vaccines do not work as effectively as hoped against new and emerging variants, then the world could be facing a much longer - and more expensive - battle against the virus than previously thought.

The variant dominant in South Africa is circulating in at least 40 other countries, including the United States.

Austria warned against non-essential travel to its Alpine province of Tyrol because of an outbreak of the South African variant. Cases were also detected north of Paris, forcing one school to close.

Global health officials back AstraZeneca vaccine after South Africa study rings alarm
 

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
Post also to:
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (1)
Guy Dewaerheid
Guy Dewaerheid Feb 08, 2021 9:37AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
22% efficiency in comparaison with a placebo, means the dead of the vaccine !!!
 
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
 
Post
 
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's Investing.com's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
or
Sign up with Email