Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

South Africa pauses AstraZeneca vaccine drive

South Africa said it will stop using the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after data emerged showing it provided only minimal protection against mild and moderate infections caused by the new, more contagious virus variant first seen in the country.

The news was announced on Sunday, almost a week after 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine arrived in South Africa. Health officials said if further research shows that the vaccine could protect against more severe cases of coronavirus, the government will consider using it, The New York Times reports.

Virologist Shabir Madhi ran the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine trial in South Africa, and said the findings are "very much a reality check." Johnson & Johnson has applied for an emergency use authorization in South Africa, and health officials said they expect health care workers will receive the company's vaccines in the coming weeks.