South Africa in shock after AstraZeneca vaccine rollout halted

South Africa’s decision to halt its rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a study showed « disappointing » results against its new Covid-19 variant may have left the nation in shock, but it also shows how scientists are at the forefront of the battle against coronavirus.

One and half million doses of the jab had been bought for healthcare workers and they were due to start getting their vaccinations this week

How do frontline workers feel?

There is no denying that they feel anxious.

Siviwe Gwarube, head of health for the main opposition Democratic Alliance, said the setback left them vulnerable to a third wave.

South Africa has recorded almost 1.5 million coronavirus cases and more than 46,000 deaths since the pandemic began – a higher toll than any other country on the continent.

« I had a lot of hope that the vaccine would change the situation we’re in as a country. A lot of people are losing jobs. I’m a medical student and we are really exposed to Covid-19. It was a blow for me when I heard that the efficacy of the vaccine was lower, » a young male medic, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC.

But health experts say while the new variant has affected South Africa’s initial vaccine plan, all is not lost – and 100,000 older nurses and other health workers will still be given the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine as part of a new trial.

This is because they believe that the vaccine may still be effective in preventing severe illness and go some way to reducing the number of people who need to be admitted to hospital for treatment.

This is important in a country where some 80% of the population cannot afford private health care and rely on state hospitals, which are currently overstretched.

World Opinions News – bbc.com

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