COVID-19: AU drops AstraZeneca from its vaccine plan
Due to global shortages of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the African Union’s disease control body announced on Thursday that it would no longer order vaccines from the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine provider.
According to Reuters, the news is yet another setback for AstraZeneca, which has marketed its vaccine as the world’s vaccine because it is the cheapest and easiest to store and transport, making it ideal for developing countries
It comes only one day after European and British medicine authorities announced that they had discovered potential associations between the vaccine and unusual cases of brain blood clots, though reiterating the vaccine’s effectiveness in protecting lives.
John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), revealed the possible link had nothing to do with the AU’s decision and reiterated his recommendation that “the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweighs the risks”.
However, African countries will still receive AstraZeneca shots through the global vaccine-sharing facility COVAX.
He did say, however, that the African Union had changed its focus to obtaining doses from Johnson & Johnson, citing an agreement announced last week to supply the continent with up to 400 million doses of its vaccine starting in the third quarter.
The key explanation, he said, was to prevent duplicating activities by the World Health Organization-backed COVAX facility.