We have to change our strategy in combating COVID-19 – Awandare

Professor Gordon Awandare, the Director of West African Center for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens(WACCBIP), has stated that the stakeholders in the fight against COVID-19 have to change the strategy in combating the pandemic on the back of the mutation of new variants of the virus.

He said this in an interview with Dela Michel on the Midday Live on TV3, Monday January 8.

He said: “It’s a very disturbing development that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t work very well against the South African variant, fortunately for us our research shows that so far we haven’t found any community transmission driven by the South African variant in the community infected cases yet, so even if it’s in the system it’s in a very low frequency, so it’s not yet been detected unlike the UK one which is all over the place”.

He added: “Anytime you take a number of cases to sequence, you find the UK variant which is very common, so I think we have to change our strategy, if we are going to get the Oxford vaccine we need to now increase our options and bring other vaccines on board.”

Asked which vaccine he will recommend for use against the virus, considering the new variants, Prof. Awandare answered said “well the Pfizer and the Moderna ones are also there, we have to wait and see how effective they’ll be against the South African variant but those are other options, we have to wait and see if we have other options on the table but more importantly we have to take steps to prevent the South African strain from spreading in our communities.

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“So far it has not or we haven’t found significant cause of the South African variant in our community so we have to be very aggressive in trying to stop it from spreading so that we have the chance of using all the vaccines available.”

“On the other hand our colleagues from Oxford have already indicated that they are going to make some changes to the vaccine design to make it more effective against the South African variant because now we are using RNA technology we are able to go in and make some changes that will allow it to change the vaccine a little bit to be able target the South African variant a bit more,” he pointed out.

The government has earlier stated that it is making arrangements to secure the vaccines into the country by March to combat the Coronavirus in the country.

By Barima Kwabena Yeboah|3news.com|Ghana