South Africa is halting its rollout of the AstraZeneca-University of Oxford Covid-19 vaccine, the country’s minister of health said.

Iran PressAfrica: South Africa has moved to halt its rollout of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine after preliminary and limited evidence showed it failed to protect against mild and moderate forms of disease caused by a coronavirus variant first detected in the country.  

According to The small study in 2,000 people aged 31, who are less likely to become severely ill, adds to evidence from big trials of other vaccines carried out after the variant appeared in South Africa. Trial data from the Janssen and Novavax vaccines showed efficacy in South Africa was up to 60% against the variant, substantially lower than against the original virus.

Speaking at an online news conference on Sunday, South African Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said his government would wait for further advice on how best to proceed with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in light of the findings. The trial was carried out by the University of the Witwatersrand but has not yet been peer-reviewed.

Scientists say the strain accounts for 90% of new Covid cases in South Africa.

The study, involving around 2,000 people, found the vaccine offered "minimal protection" against mild and moderate cases of Covid-19.

South Africa has received 1m doses of the AstraZeneca jab and was due to start vaccinating people next week.