South Africa on Tuesday said that it would offer its doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID vaccine to the African Union (AU) after they were found to have little impact on mild infections caused by a variant of the virus first identified in the country last year.
“The doses we purchased have been offered to the African Union to distribute to those countries who have already expressed interest in acquiring the stock,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said.
“There will be no wasteful and fruitless expenditure.”
South Africa had acquired a million doses of Covishield, a copy of the vaccine made by the Serum Institute of India, and was set to receive an additional 500,000.
“Reports that the shots had expired and will be returned to India were untrue, and no money will be wasted,” Mkhize said.
The AU, through its African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), has secured some 270 million doses of anti-COVID vaccine for the continent and last week said it would not “walk away” from the AstraZeneca formula.
It recommended countries where the South African variant has not been detected to proceed with the rollout.
South Africa has now settled for the yet-to-be-approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine, securing nine million doses, including 80,000 expected to be delivered this week