Exclusive Webinar :Gain complete knowledge about how you can invest in global markets during an insightful webinar on April 16 at 11 am. Register Now!
you are here: HomeNewsIndia

Serum Institute of India refunds South Africa for undelivered COVID-19 vaccines

A million doses from the institute, which had already been delivered, have been sold on to other countries in the African Union.

April 09, 2021 / 08:08 AM IST
(Image: AFP)

(Image: AFP)

The Serum Institute of India has fully refunded South Africa for the 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which were not delivered to the country after it decided not to use the vaccine because it was not effective against a new variant of the virus.

A million doses from the institute, which had already been delivered, have been sold on to other countries in the African Union.

"Treasury has confirmed that the Serum Institute of India has fully refunded us for the remaining 500,000 doses that had not been delivered to South Africa and the money is already in our bank account," Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said at a televised media briefing on Thursday.

"I want to clarify this quite clearly, as this now closes the matter of the AstraZeneca vaccine and also we close it without incurring any fruitless and wasteful expenditure," he said.

Mkhize said that there was a huge concern among South Africans that these vaccines would now be wasted.

Close

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more
Show

"But we want to indicate that all of the AstraZeneca vaccines have been salvaged," he said.

"The one million doses that we have received have been sold to the African Union platform and have been distributed to many African countries, who have been able now to have access to these vaccines," Mkhize said.

The minister explained why other states in Africa could use the 500,000 doses of the vaccine, which were rejected by South Africa.

"The difference between us and some of these countries is that they actually don''t have the same variant as what we have got and therefore they also don''t have evidence in their countries that the AstraZeneca would be a problem.

"So, in those countries we go by the WHO guidelines that said it could be used, even if there are other variants in other countries," he said.

Mkhize said South Africa would continue to support AstraZeneca''s efforts and would deal with them again when they could show that they had developed a vaccine with efficacy against the new variant in South Africa.

He also outlined plans for the vaccine rollout in South Africa from other suppliers.

"We have now secured 51 million doses of vaccines with the agreements that have been signed - 31 million from Johnson and Johnson, which is a one-dose vaccine; and 20 million from Pfizer, which is a two-dose vaccine.

"This means that we can now move forward with confidence as we finalise our plans for our mass rollout campaign, which is due to officially begin at the end of phase one on May 17," he said.

South Africa started the first phase by vaccinating its healthcare workers. The second phase of six months will target the elderly, people with comorbidities, and workers in essential services, with the rest of the population following in the third phase.

"If we didn''t have this debacle with the AstraZeneca vaccines, we would have been able to move faster, as we have indicated to the public," Mkhize said as he expressed hope that South Africa would achieve herd immunity against COVID-19 within a year.
PTI
first published: Apr 9, 2021 08:08 am

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser
Sections