COVID-19 vaccine update: South Africa may return Serum Institute of India doses

The WHO has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for emergency use. This means the vaccine can be rolled out globally 

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 16 February 2021
The WHO has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for emergency use. This means the vaccine can be rolled out globally. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

South Africa has asked the Serum Institute of India to take back the one million novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses the company had sent in early February, The Economic Times reported February 16, 2021.

  • The move comes in a week after the country said it will put on hold use of AstraZeneca’s shot in its vaccination programme. The South Africa’s health minister had last week said the government may sell doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, after the country paused its rollout following a small clinical trial that showed it offered minimal protection against mild to moderate illness.
  • The Guardian, however, reported that the country is not planning to return the one million doses of the AstraZeneca to the Serum Institute of India, but is planning to share the doses with other countries via the African Union, citing the Health ministry deputy director-general Anban Pillay.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus jab for emergency use. This means the vaccine can be rolled out globally and participate in the COVAX programme that aims to bring vaccines to poorer countries.
  • Australia’s regulator February 16 approved Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, ending months of delay to give full approval.
  • The United Kingdom will look at making excess doses of coronavirus vaccinations available to other countries after it has vaccinated its adult population, vaccine deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi said February 15, according to Reuters.
  • Another SARS-CoV-2 variant with a “potentially worrying set of mutations” has been detected in 10 countries, including the UK, according to researchers at the University of Edinburgh, the Economic Times reported.
  • The variant, called B1525, has been detected through genome sequencing in countries including Denmark, the United States and Australia. Some 32 cases have been identified in the UK so far.
  • Nigeria is evaluating four coronavirus vaccines for possible approval, including Russian, Indian and Chinese doses, the health minister said February 15, according to AFP. These include Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, the Covishield-branded AstraZeneca made by Serum Institute of India; Covaxin by Bharat Biotech Ltd and China’s Sinopharm.
  • The Operation Warp Speed goal to produce 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses by January 2021 was not met, according to a status report released by the US Government Accountability Office.
  • Companies with current emergency use authorisations (EUA) for vaccines are contracted under the programme to release a combined 200 million doses of their vaccines by the end of March 2021, but had released just 63.7 million doses as of 31 January 2021, according to WHO.
  • The world reported 109,732,752 cases of COVID-19 as of February 16, according to A total of 2,420,375 people have died of the virus.
  • India’s tally of cases was 10,925,531 as of February 16, with an addition of 9,084 new cases in the last 24 hours, according to
  • Maharashtra, at 3,365 cases as on February 15, has come to top the charts among states recording maximum COVID-19 cases in India. Kerala recorded the second-highest cases at 2,884, according to

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