South Africa halts AstraZeneca vaccine rollout
South Africa stopped the distribution of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine on Sunday, after researchers found that the vaccine "provides minimal protection" against infection from the new strain first identified in the country, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: A halted vaccine rollout is a huge setback for South Africa as it struggles to curb the spread of the virus and its variant and the country approaches 50,000 deaths.
- The variant has concerned experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, since preliminary findings suggest the strain could interfere with monoclonal antibodies.
- 1 million doses arrived in the country last week, according to the New York Times.
What they found: Researchers from Oxford and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa found that AztraZeneca's vaccine "provides minimal protection" against infection from the new variant, Oxford said in a press release on Sunday. The analysis of roughly 2,000 adults not yet been peer-reviewed.
What to watch: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in an online briefing that the government would not proceed until scientists advised them on the best next steps, per Reuters.