Keep using AstraZeneca vaccine despite South African Covid variant: Outbreak Team
The fact that the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine may be less effective in protecting against the South Africa variant of the virus, is currently no reason to stop using the vaccine, the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) said in advice to the cabinet. So far, the South Africa variant was diagnosed at least 54 times in the Netherlands, NU.nl reports.
The authorities in South Africa recently decided to not use the AstraZeneca vaccine after a new study showed it was not very effective against the dominant coroanvirus strain in the country.
Even if this is true, the AstraZeneca vaccine does offer protection against the original SARS-CoV-2 strain and the more contagious B117 strain that are dominant in the Netherlands, the OMT said. "The gains that can be made by rapidly deploying the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine against these variants that are dominant in the Netherlands are great and currently outweigh the uncertain efficacy of the vaccine against severe Covid-19 caused by the South African variant," The OMT said.
According to the team of experts, the government's main advisory body in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, it is not sufficiently clear what the consequences will be for the Netherlands if the South Africa coronavirus variant spreads more here in the future. "The lack of this knowledge cannot be a reason not to use the vaccine," the OMT said. "Not using this vaccine will lead to an unwanted and unnecessary delay in the implementation of the vaccination strategy."
The Netherlands started using the AstraZeneca vaccine last week. The Health Council advised that this vaccine be used for people under the age of 65. Health care workers under 65 were vaccinated with it last week. This week GPs started vaccinating people born in 1956 or 1957. People with Down's Syndrome, morbid obesity, and breathing difficulties caused by a neurological problem also have priority for the AstraZeneca vaccine.