South Africa Has Concerns About Sputnik V, Novavax Vaccines

South Africa has held extensive talks with the manufacturers of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine and has concerns about its efficacy against a variant of the coronavirus first identified in the country, a government official said.

The country is also concerned about the adenovirus 5 vector used in the shot, which has in previous studies appeared to make people more susceptible to HIV infection, Anban Pillay, deputy director-general in the department of health, said on a webinar on Tuesday.

The country’s health authorities don’t think that the vaccine produced by Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Novavax Inc. is suitable for the country because of its low efficacy against the variant, he said. Talks have been held with India’s Bharat Biotech International Ltd., he said.

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told lawmakers in a separate briefing on Tuesday that a ministerial advisory committee had recommended vaccines be categorized into three groups:

  • Those that should be considered for immediate use, including vaccines manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc.
  • A second group of inoculations that “appear very promising,” but require additional technical data, including the Sputnik shot and those manufactured by China’s Sinopharm Group and Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
  • Vaccines that may not be suitable for immediate use, including those made by AstraZeneca Plc and Novavax

“We have placed huge orders on J&J and Pfizer which will be finalized in the next few days and announced when concluded, whilst discussions are ongoing with Moderna and no finality has been reached yet,” Mkhize said.

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