SA scientists to discuss Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine study

The scientists will meet on Thursday to discuss the study.
The scientists will meet on Thursday to discuss the study.
Image: 123RF/Luis Carceller

SA scientists will meet on Thursday to discuss a laboratory study that suggests the dominant local coronavirus variant may reduce antibody protection from the Pfizer vaccine by two-thirds, the health ministry said.

The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday, includes additional data to one released in a pre-print review published in late January.

SA plans to start rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in the coming months, after on Wednesday starting its vaccination programme with Johnson & Johnson's shot in a research study targeting healthcare workers.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday the country was expecting 500,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine initially and about 7 million doses by June.

"I do know that our scientists will be meeting to discuss it (the Pfizer study) and they will advise the minister," health ministry spokesman Popo Maja said. "We are not going to be releasing a statement until advised by our scientists. We will also be guided by the regulator SAHPRA."

SAHPRA spokesman Yuven Gounden said the Pfizer application was currently under review, but declined further comment.

SA has recorded almost 1.5 million Covid-19 cases and more than 48,000 deaths, the most on the African continent

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