The COVID-19 vaccine developed by British-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca is still effective even in places with widespread transmission of the South Africa coronavirus variant, a World Health Organization (WHO) official said Thursday.
WHO country representative Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said the study that found reduced efficacy of the AstraZeneca jab on patients with the South Africa variant only had a “very small sample” of less than 2,000 people.
“We still believe that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective even in places where you have a large proportion of cases which could be attributed to the B.1.351 or the South Africa variant,” he said in a virtual briefing.
A molecular biologist on Wednesday warned that the AstraZeneca shot could be rendered ineffective if the Philippines fails to curb the spread of the South Africa variant.
The Department of Health earlier explained that the new variant is more transmissible and contains a mutation that could cause reduced vaccine efficacy.
“The study that was used in South Africa was a very limited scale study and what it showed was that there was evidence of mild and moderate disease following AstraZeneca vaccines,” Abeyasinghe said.
“The purpose of the vaccines is to prevent severe disease and deaths. We told you that none of the currently available vaccines… prevents transmission,” he added.
The Philippines has so far recorded six COVID-19 cases with the South Africa variant.
Over 487,000 AstraZeneca doses are set to arrive in the country on Thursday evening. —KBK, GMA News