AstraZeneca vaccines will be used or swapped before expiry date: Mkhize

The results of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine study in SA, released at the weekend, showed it was not effective against mild and moderate disease caused by the dominant variant in SA, known as 501Y.V2 or B1.351.
Picture: Dado Ruvic/Reuters

Health minister Zweli Mkhize on Wednesday morning said his department will ensure the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines will either be used or swapped for new ones before their expiry date.

On Sunday, Mkhize said it was only when the first million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived at OR Tambo International Airport that health authorities discovered the shots were expiring well ahead of what had been planned.

“The April expiry date was not discovered by accident but through the implementation of our quality assurance and control protocols,” he said on Wednesday.​

Mkhize said his department briefed the interministerial committee on vaccination, chaired by deputy president David Mabuza, on Monday on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant of Covid-19 in the country.

“The government is committed to ensuring we utilise the best options and approaches to protect our population from infections, including Covid-19.

“SA has well established protocols to ensure safe use of all new health products. We are pleased our research system is working well, not only to ensure quality control, but also by leading global research work in the study of the coronavirus,” he said.

Mkhize said scientists will continue to deliberate about the use of the vaccine in the country.

“Depending on their advice, the vaccine will be swapped before the expiry date. By exchanging unused vaccines before the expiry date, the department of health will ensure  the acquired AstraZeneca vaccines do not become wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

“We intend to use the vaccine based on the advice of our experts. All we can say to the public is that we will not waste the money,” he said.

By Iavan Pijoos – TimesLIVE

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