TUESDAY, Feb. 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Giving a COVID-19 vaccine that is still being tested to health care workers is one option being considered by South Africa after it delayed the introduction of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
That was done because preliminary findings suggest the AstraZeneca vaccine is only minimally effective in preventing mild-to-moderate cases of illness caused by the coronavirus variant that is dominant in the country, the Associated Press reported.
Officials are now weighing giving the Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccine -- which has not been approved by any country -- to 100,000 health care workers while assessing how effective it is against the variant. Another possible option is to mix the AstraZeneca vaccine with another one, the AP reported.
The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was 57 percent effective in South Africa at preventing moderate-to-severe COVID-19, according to early findings from an international trial. Like the AstraZeneca vaccine, it is also easier to handle than the super-frozen vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna.
South Africa's strategy is being watched globally because the variant first detected and now dominant there is now spreading in more than 30 countries, the AP reported. Officials say this form of the virus is more contagious, and evidence is emerging that it may also cause more serious disease. Recent studies have also shown it can infect people who have survived the original form of the virus.