Africa drops AstraZeneca vaccine, which COVAX will supply

  • Vaccination against Covid-19
NAIROBI (Reuters) - The African Union’s disease control body said on Thursday it had dropped plans to secure AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for its members from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest vaccine supplier, amid global shortfalls of the shot.

 

AstraZeneca’s $3 shot is by far the cheapest coronavirus vaccine launched so far, and the easiest to store and transport, making it well suited to developing countries.

On Wednesday, European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between the vaccine and extremely rare cases of brain blood clots, while emphatically reaffirming its importance in mass vaccination against COVID-19.

John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the AU’s decision had nothing to do with those findings, and reiterated his advice that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

He said the main reason was to avoid duplicating COVAX’s efforts by the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility, which will continue to supply AstraZeneca to Africa.

He said the AU was focusing on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing a deal announced last week to supply Africa with up to 400 million doses.

COVAX aims to deliver 600 million shots - most of them from AstraZeneca - to some 40 African countries this year, enough to vaccinate 20% of their populations.

Africa trails most other regions in COVID-19 vaccinations; fewer than 13 million doses have been administered on a continent of 1.3 billion people, according to the Africa CDC.

 

AstraZeneca’s $3 shot is by far the cheapest coronavirus vaccine launched so far, and the easiest to store and transport, making it well suited to developing countries.

On Wednesday, European and British medicine regulators said they had found possible links between the vaccine and extremely rare cases of brain blood clots, while emphatically reaffirming its importance in mass vaccination against COVID-19.

John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), said the AU’s decision had nothing to do with those findings, and reiterated his advice that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks.

He said the main reason was to avoid duplicating COVAX’s efforts by the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility, which will continue to supply AstraZeneca to Africa.

He said the AU was focusing on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, citing a deal announced last week to supply Africa with up to 400 million doses.

COVAX aims to deliver 600 million shots - most of them from AstraZeneca - to some 40 African countries this year, enough to vaccinate 20% of their populations.

Africa trails most other regions in COVID-19 vaccinations; fewer than 13 million doses have been administered on a continent of 1.3 billion people, according to the Africa CDC.