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UK ‘pretty confident’ AstraZeneca jab is effective, despite South African strain concern

Article image for UK ‘pretty confident’ AstraZeneca jab is effective, despite South African strain concern

Australia is progressing with plans to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 jab as a key part of its vaccination program, despite a new study finding it offers “minimal protection” against one strain of the virus.

A small study has found the jab offers little protection against mild and moderate cases of the South African variant of the virus, prompting the South African government to halt its roll-out.

Efficacy of the jab on serious cases of the South African strain has not been assessed.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says he’s not concerned by the findings, because of promising data emerging from the UK.

Almost one-in-four adults has been vaccinated in the UK, with many receiving the AstraZeneca jab.

Professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, Peter Openshaw, says he’s “pretty confident” the UK vaccination program will provide effective protection, despite the South African strain concerns.

“We are pretty confident that the vaccines we’ve been using will protect against the strains that we’ve currently got in the country,” he told Ross and Russel.

“We have about 140 odd importations of virus from South Africa, all of which are being very actively traced and we’re hoping that we can keep that under control.”

Professor Openshaw said doubts over the protection the AstraZeneca jab provides should not delay Australia’s vaccine rollout.

“I would recommend that you start vaccinating as soon as possible, because in terms of being able to open up your borders again … you really have to vaccinate your population,” he said.

“I think you get on with it and then the vaccines can be updated over time.”

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