The Anglo-Swedish vaccine is ineffective against the B.1.351 variant (called “South Africa”), although it has been declared in 18 countries.
Delivery is delayed and safety is questioned, especially the so-called “South Africa” variant, which has reduced efficacy: the problem surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine is getting worse, and almost all African countries rely on the vaccine to carry out vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 . The Covax international solidarity mechanism has chosen the cheapest and easiest to use Anglo-Swedish solution, which must ensure that 20% of the population in 92 low- and middle-income countries receive free vaccination.
All countries on the African continent are eligible, 31 of which have received about 16 million doses. India, which had previously contracted vaccine production to the Serum Institute of India, was forced to suspend export orders from India. government. On Tuesday, April 6, the laboratory hinted that if the country’s epidemic is brought under control, its delivery could be resumed in June.John Nkengasong, director of the CDC-Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-Africa), has not concealed that long delays may become “There is a real problem with the vaccination campaign”.
The spread of the “South Africa” variant has cast a more worrying shadow on the consequences of the health crisis. On February 9, the South African government chose to shelve its order of one million doses of AstraZeneca. A study conducted by the Krisp Laboratory (KwaZulu-Natal Research Innovation and Sequencing Platform) in Durban has just shown that the vaccine’s effect on moderate forms of disease collapsed in the presence of the B.1.351 mutation. In the severe form of infection, the behavior of the vaccine does not give an answer.
However, the infectivity of this variant is suspected to be mainly at the cause of the second wave, which is more deadly. It affected southern Africa at the end of 2020. Since then, the mutant strain spread rapidly and has been announced in 18 countries in two countries. The border between South Africa and the western end of the African continent, such as Gambia. “This is one of the themes that prevents me from falling asleep”, Matshidiso Moeti, Director of the World Health Organization (WHO) Africa Office, expressed his gratitude.
A genome surveillance network funded by the World Health Organization and the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been established to monitor the spread of the virus and its variants. It is based on twelve laboratories with sequencing capabilities and theoretically sends virus samples to poor countries (majority) every month, and these countries account for the majority.
Cameroon first confirmed the existence of this variant on January 15th, depending on the network and cooperation with French laboratories. It may take up to 15 days to get results. “It is not yet possible to determine at what proportion this variant will produce new pollution”, Professor Yap Boum of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) pointed out: “However, this is likely to be the cause of the large increase in the number of cases and deaths observed in Cameroon. In this case, compliance with barriers has become an anecdote. The analysis is ongoing, the Scientific Council for Public Health Emergencies Of course, the vaccine strategy will be stopped depending on the results.”
In mid-March, scientists suggested that the Cameroonian government “Give yourself a deadline” Before deciding to use the AstraZeneca vaccine. Both are due to concerns about its possible side effects and its effectiveness against the South African variant.
In Ghana, there is no doubt that this variant exists. One of the partner laboratories of the Surveillance Network, the West African Center for Infectious Disease Cell Biology (Waccbip), University of Ghana, verified the virus, which was sequenced in January. “Most Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic, and very few patients go to the hospital for treatment”, I would like to express my gratitude to John Amuasi, a researcher at the Kumasi Tropical Medicine Cooperative Research Center (KCCR) “In the absence of a systematic patient survey, the extent of the spread of the South African variant has not been accurately determined. The only thing we can say with certainty is that it is there.”
As for the impact of the variant on the vaccination campaign, Dr. Amuasi urged caution: “We know that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective on this variant. But the poor effect does not mean that the effect is poor.. The existence of this variant on our territory in no way encourages us to stop vaccinating. “ On February 24, Ghana was the first country in the world to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of the Covax program.
John Nkengasong also kindly asks: “We need to closely monitor the release of this variant by testing outpost sites every month. But please be careful not to draw conclusions: it is sufficient to analyze samples from the countries/regions to be listed. This does not mean that it is Mainly, and the vaccination of AstraZeneca should be stopped.” However, the head of CDC-Africa realized that once this threshold was exceeded, it would be difficult to continue recommending the Anglo-Swedish procedure. This has been the case in South Africa since January. Everything shows that Zimbabwe and Botswana are experiencing the same situation.
“AstraZeneca’s dependence on AstraZeneca is worrying. We don’t know how the situation will evolve, but if a variant is needed, we will have to resort to another vaccine, otherwise AstraZeneca will have to adapt to its response.”, Also warned Anthony Costello, professor of global health at University College London.
The African Union could not wait to change its mind. On March 29, Africa’s vaccine purchase platform (Avatt) announced that it had finalized an order for 400 million doses of vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. The first shipment will be delivered before the summer, but almost all members of the Pan-African Organization have reserved quotas.
Until then, AstraZeneca’s vaccination campaign should continue where it is still available. On Thursday, in response to the European Medicines Agency’s announcement to ensure that blood clot cases are very rare side effects, WHO and CDC-Africa officials unanimously reiterated: “The benefits of this vaccine far outweigh the risks.”