South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine that the company had sent in early February.

South Africa received one million doses of the license-made AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine last week and another 500,000 were set to arrive in the next few weeks. South Africa’s health minister previously noted that the vaccines which arrived from India have an expiry date in April and had asked SII to swap them out for doses with later expiry dates.

South Africa’s health minister has said the government may sell doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, after the country paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed the shot offered minimal protection against mild to restrained illness from the 501Y.V2 coronavirus variant dominant in the country. The African country, which is yet to launch its Covid-19 vaccination program, has decided to start vaccinating health workers with Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine in the form of an “implementation study” with researchers.

SII, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has emerged as a key supplier of the AstraZeneca shot around the world. Even the U.K., which is home to AstraZeneca, is supposedly auditing SII’s sites for future orders of the vaccine amid a crunch in supplies.


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Joydev Mishra

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