South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back the million doses of covid-19 vaccine that the company had shipped in early February, The Economic Times reported. The development comes a week after the country announced that it is putting a hold on the use of AstraZeneca vaccine.
India’s Pune based Serum Institute has collaborated with AstraZeneca and Oxford University to produce their vaccine candidate locally. Serum Institute, which is world’s largest vaccine maker by volume, has emerged as the key supplier of the covid-19 vaccine.
The company had supplied one million vaccine doses to South Africa last week and another 500,000 were due to be in next few weeks.
The pause on AstraZeneca’s vaccine in South Africa has been carried out over vaccine’s safety that was analysed during a small clinical trial. The vaccine reportedly showed minimal protection against mild to moderate illness from the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca had earlier said that its vaccine appeared to offer only limited protection against mild disease caused by the South African variant, based on a study by University of Witwaterstrand and Oxford University.
South Africa, which is yet to launch its vaccination programme against the novel coronavirus, has decided to administer health workers with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.