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AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t really work against the South Africa variant, study says

Scientists in South Africa said on Sunday that the South African variant can evade the AstraZeneca vaccine

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A military medic prepares the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine ahead of being administered to patients at the Elland Road mass vaccination centre in Leeds, England, Monday Feb. 8, 2021.

A military medic prepares the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine ahead of being administered to patients at the Elland Road mass vaccination centre in Leeds, England, Monday Feb. 8, 2021. Scientists in South Africa said on Sunday that the South African variant can evade the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Danny Lawson, PA via Associated Press

The AstraZeneca-Oxford COVID-19 vaccine doesn’t protect patients from mild or moderate illness from the new COVID-19 variant first discovered in South Africa, according to The New York Times.

  • In response, South Africa halted the use of the vaccine, slowing efforts by the country to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

What happened

Researchers from Oxford and University of Witwatersrand in South Africa found AstraZeneca’s vaccine “provides minimal protection” against the South Africa COVID-19 strain, according to Oxford.

The researchers reviewed 2,000 cases for the study, which was not peer-reviewed.

  • The researchers said people who had previously been infected with COVID-19 did not develop antibodies that protected them from the South Africa variant, too.
  • Per The New York Times, the scientists said the AstraZeneca vaccine might protect against more severe cases of COVID-19. More research will be reviewed to determine whether or not that is true. If so, the rollout in South Africa will continue.

What’s next

Sarah Gilbert, a co-developer of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, told BBC News that an updated version of the AstraZeneca vaccine that can combat the new COVID-19 strain will likely be developed by fall.

  • “We’re getting prepared with different versions of the virus, and we’ll be ready if we need to use them,” Gilbert said.

What about other vaccines?

According to Axios, Moderna and Pfizer both said their vaccines are effective against the COVID-19 variants first discovered in United Kingdom and South Africa.