The country halted its rollout of the shot when studies showed it was not effective enough against the pervasive 501Y.V2 variant. South Africa’s health minister says he will consider a trade or sale. Other news is from Japan, China and Tanzania.
New York Post:
South Africa Eyes Selling Or Swapping AstraZeneca Vaccines
South Africa wants to sell or swap its first batch of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine just days after getting it — because a new study suggested it might not protect against its dominant mutation. The nation received its first one million doses of the jab last week, with another 500,000 on order and due in the coming weeks. But as the jabs arrived, a study showed that it offers as little as 10% protection against mild to moderate cases of the 501Y.V2 variant that accounts for the vast majority of the country’s new infections. (Brown, 2/11)
The Washington Post:
First Pfizer Vaccines Arrive In Japan As Government Set To Approve Shots
Japan’s first shipment of Pfizer vaccine doses arrived Friday as a government panel was expected to formally recommend the shots for use inside the country. Local news agencies reported that 400,000 doses of the two-shot vaccine were received at the Narita International Airport near Tokyo. Japan has yet to begin its vaccine rollout due to bureaucratic hurdles and a general suspicion of foreign-made pharmaceuticals. On Friday, a health ministry committee will meet to decide whether to greenlight the vaccine, with formal approval from the government likely to take place Sunday, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported. (Cunningham, 2/12)
What The WHO Coronavirus Experts Learned In Wuhan
A World Health Organization team has left China after gaining some new insights into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 2.3 million people — but with the major questions still unanswered. The visit was politically sensitive for China — which is concerned about any allegations it didn’t handle the initial outbreak properly — and has been closely watched around the world. Team member Peter Daszak sounded upbeat on arriving at the airport Wednesday at the end of the four-week trip to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the first COVID-19 cases were detected in December 2019. (Fujiyama and Moritsugu, 2/11)
Covid-19 Crisis Grows In Tanzania As President Rejects Risks
Tanzania’s main hospitals have been swamped by patients displaying coronavirus symptoms, intensive-care units are full and funeral masses have become daily occurrences. Amid the unfolding health-care crisis, President John Magufuli has declared the East African nation free of Covid-19. He’s eschewed lockdowns, discouraged the use of face masks and banned the release of infection data since April, making Tanzania the only country in the world besides insular North Korea that doesn’t release the statistics. “The government should break the silence,” ruling party lawmaker Zacharia Issay said in parliament on Thursday. “I am tired of going to burials.” (2/12)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.