The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned against jumping to conclusions about the efficacy of coronavirus vaccines.
This is after a South African study suggested that the AstraZeneca jab was less effective against a local variant of the virus.
But experts are hopeful that the vaccine will still be effective at preventing severe cases.
Head of WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said data used in the study was from a “limited sample size” and the participants were “younger and healthier”.
“Yesterday, South Africa announced it was putting a temporary hold on the rollout of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine after a study showed it was minimally effective at preventing mild to moderate disease caused by a variant first identified in South Africa,” the statement read.
“This is clearly concerning news. However, there are some important caveats.
“Given the limited sample size of the trial and the younger, healthier profile of the participants, it is important to determine whether or not the vaccine remains effective in preventing more severe illness.
“These results are a reminder that we need to do everything we can to reduce circulation of the virus with proven public health measures.
Several countries are succeeding in suppressing transmission, including those where new variants are circulating.
“We all have a role to play in protecting vaccines. Every time you decide to stay at home, to avoid crowds, to wear a mask or to clean your hands, you are denying the virus the opportunity to spread, and the opportunity to change in ways that could make vaccines less effective.
“It also seems increasingly clear that manufacturers will have to adjust to the evolution of the virus, taking into account the latest variants for future shots, including boosters.”
But he acknowledged that manufacturers of vaccines will have to adapt to mutations of the coronavirus.
“It seems increasingly clear that manufacturers will have to adjust to the evolution of the virus, taking into account the latest variants for future shots, including boosters.
“We know viruses mutate and we know we have to be ready to adapt vaccines so they remain effective,” he said.