Doctors Without Borders (MSF) registers concern following recent news regarding the initial findings of diminished efficacy of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine against the COVID-19 variant (501Y.V2) circulating in South Africa, which has led to the South African government halting and adapting its planned rollout of COVID-19 vaccination to healthcare workers.
Ensuring the safety of health care workers around the world is essential to curbing the pandemic. As we await further data and analysis on these findings, we hope that the international health community and national officials can reach a swift solution to ensure that effective vaccines can be provided to health care workers in South Africa, as well as other nations, particularly on the African continent, affected by this highly transmissible COVID-19 variant.
Since December 2020, the Southern Africa region has been experiencing a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections which has placed significant burdens on stretched health systems. Consequently, in several countries, the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths increased exponentially over the last two months. MSF has had a long presence in Southern Africa providing emergency medical care and humanitarian services in the region. Currently, MSF supports national and local health authorities in eSwatini, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe as they respond to COVID-19