Claim: AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines are not effective against the Delta strain of the COVID-19 virus

Verdict: FALSE

Researched by Gifty Tracy Aminu

A news article published by a leading digital news platform in Ghana, myjoyonline.com claims the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines are not effective against the Delta COVID-19 variant.

The online article published on June 21 following confirmed reports that Ghana has detected cases of the highly contagious Covid-19 variant was headlined: “Covid-19: Deadly Indian strain detected in Ghana – Sputnik V, AstraZeneca vaccines not effective against it.”

But how true is the claim that Sputnik V and AstraZeneca vaccines are not effective against the Delta COVID-19 variant?

 

Claim

The article references the Head of West Africa Center for Cell Biology and Infectious Pathogens, WACCBIP, of the University of Ghana, Professor Gordon Awendare as the source of the claim.

The professor in an interview on Joy Prime is quoted to have said: “now we have to be looking at the right vaccines. All this while, we’ve been fixed on AstraZeneca and Sputnik V but we have to shift towards more of Pfizer and others which have a better chance of protecting against this variant. Because the future is, we are going towards these aggressive variants.”

 

Fact-check

“Reports that Sputnik V and AstraZeneca vaccines are not effective against the Delta strain of SARS-Cov-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) are untrue,” a joint statement issued by the Ghana Health Service(GHS) and the Ministry of Health has stated.

 

Furthermore, new analysis by Public Health England(PHE) shows for the first time that 2 doses of COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective against hospitalisation from the Delta (B.1.617.2) variant.

The analysis suggests:

  • the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 96% effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses
  • the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is 92% effective against hospitalisation after 2 doses

The World Health Organization(WHO) Africa Infodemic Response Alliance secretariat has emphasized that: “increasing amounts of data suggest that most vaccines, including the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines, provide a level of protection against all variants, especially protection against severe disease and death.”

Meanwhile, a Research Fellow in the Department of Health Policy and Management at New York University’s School of Global Public Health Nana Kofi Quakyi took to his Twitter handle to debunk the claim saying, “this is not accurate.”

Supporting his statement with available data, he said, “two doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine are highly effective against the Delta variant. Real-world data from Public Health England (preprint) points to 92% effectiveness against hospitalization and basically 100% against deaths.”

 “AstraZeneca may be less effective against the Delta variant than other SARS-Cov-2 strains hospitalizations, but “less effective” here still means 92% after 2 doses and 71% after just one,” he maintained.

𝙎𝙤𝙪𝙧𝙘𝙚: 𝙋𝙪𝙗𝙡𝙞𝙘 𝙃𝙚𝙖𝙡𝙩𝙝 𝙀𝙣𝙜𝙡𝙖𝙣𝙙 (𝙋𝙃𝘾)

 

“They made an inference from my comments which was wrong. I was suggesting that it will be important going forward when we are procuring vaccines to get Pfizer and the others. This is because we already have the South African variant in Ghana and if Delta comes to add and there is an explosion that will not be good news for us. But it doesn’t mean Astrazeneca is not effective because research has shown it can highly protect recipients against hospitalisation and death.” Professor Gordon Awendare told GhanaFact when asked whether the claim being attributed to him was true.

 

Verdict

The claim that AstraZeneca and Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines are not effective against the Delta COVID-19 variant is FALSE.