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Sale of AstraZeneca vaccines ‘resulted in up to 22,000 deaths’ of SA elderly

The lives of 18,000 to 22,000 elderly South Africans could have been saved had the country not sold 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to other African countries in March, according to vaccinology expert Prof Shabir Madhi in a Sunday Times Daily report.

Prof Madhi, who conducted an analysis at Wits University, said the government “completely ignored” advice from the World Health Organisation, with disastrous consequences.

He said the decision was based on the fact that the vaccine’s efficacy against mild to moderate disease was not high, but it was still “protective against severe disease and death”.

Canadian data have since shown that even one AstraZeneca dose offers 80% protection against severe COVID disease and death, so 1.5 million doses would, according to an analysis of consequences just completed, have prevented 18,000 to 22,000 deaths of people over 60,” he said.

The harm was severe not just in SA, but also in terms of hesitancy as people in other African countries refused to use vaccines seen as “second-hand’".

Many of those countries are not equipped with the technology to do genome sequencing and determine exactly which variants are around, so the argument that it wouldn’t work against the Beta led to reluctance. Many doses expired as a result.

 

Sunday Times Daily article – Selling AstraZeneca vaccines resulted in up to 22,000 deaths, says Madhi (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Efficacy of Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine — Wits University trial

 

Mhize: Sale of Astra Zeneca vaccine to AU completed

 

Debate continues over SA's ditching of the AstraZeneca vaccine

 

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