Belgian vaccination task force to review strategy on AstraZeneca
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Belgian vaccination task force to review strategy on AstraZeneca

Credits: Belga

Following the announcement that South Africa will halt its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Belgium’s vaccination task force will look at the new information on the vaccine and may adjust its strategy, said virologist Marc Van Ranst.

South Africa made the decision to suspend the use of this particular vaccine, which would have started this week, after an initial small-scale sample showed that it does not protect against the new South African variant of the new coronavirus (Covid-19).

This announcement was not “good news” Van Ranst said on Radio 1’s “De Ochtend” programme, added that there is no reason to panic in Belgium.

“The other vaccines do protect against the South African variant, AstraZeneca’s does not,” he explained. He added that, in South Africa, that is a big problem, because that’s where the variant originated and here it is circulating at a higher speed.

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He highlighted that, in Belgium, this is less significant at the moment. “We had an outbreak in Ostend, for example. If we look at the figures here, we see that 0.2% of the strains contain that variant.”

Although this figure is relatively low, “you want to keep that under control,” said Van Ranst. 

When asked about the (small-scale) studies showing that a second shot from AstraZeneca would increase efficacy if more time is left between the first and second vaccination, Van Ranst emphasised: “These results are not based on very large numbers.

“The next few days, weeks, and months will bring more clarity on that.”

Lauren Walker
The Brussels Times