Vaccinologist Professor Shabir Madhi has criticised the government for selling the country’s AstraZeneca vaccine to other African countries, saying the doses should have been given to people deemed “high risk”.
Madhi, who was speaking to Talk Radio 702 on Tuesday, said the million doses, which had been brought from the Serum Institute of India in January, should have been used even though a study found that the vaccine had a low efficacy for individuals with mild symptoms, reports IOL.
The government opted for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is currently being rolled out to health workers.
Madhi said the country’s focus regarding the Covid-19 battle was about reducing risk to people with comorbidities, people over the age of 60 and minimising the number of people who die as a result of complications with the virus.
“Rather than use the vaccine that the World Health Organisation indicates would protect against severe disease, even with the B1513 variant, and instead of making it available to high-risk individuals, we uniquely decided to ship it out of the country,” he said.
He added: “The AstraZeneca will still protect against severe disease, even if it didn’t protect against mild and moderate (Covid) cases, like the study in South Africa showed.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine, for example, should not be rolled out to all healthcare workers; it should be rolled out to people that are at high risk of developing severe disease.
“Your average 20 to 30 or 40-year-old health-care worker who will only develop mild symptoms when infected with the virus, those individuals are not going to benefit much from the AstraZeneca vaccine, or any other vaccine.”