MANILA, Mar 5 (Mabuhay)–The OCTA Research group on Friday backed the World Health Organization’s claim that AstraZeneca vaccine is effective against South Africa coronavirus variant, and dissociated itself from one of its fellows who said the opposite.

Dr. Guido David said OCTA disagreed with the statement of Fr. Nicanor Austriaco that the AstraZeneca jab is “no different [from] injecting water” into COVID-19 patients with the South Africa variant.

“We actually don’t agree with it, that it is ‘sayang lang’ or that it is ineffective. In fact, we also agree with the WHO position,” David said.

Earlier, a WHO official maintained that the AstraZeneca vaccine is still effective even in areas with widespread transmission of the South Africa variant, noting that the study showing otherwise only had a “very small sample” of less than 2,000 patients.

David also pointed out that the evidence Austriaco cited came from “just one study.”

“We understand where that statement came from… but again, we also have to put that statement in context, in terms of what the study was actually about, what its limitations are, and repercussions for our vaccination program,” he said.

David said OCTA Research members will convene to discuss and release a statement on their official position on the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the South Africa variant.

“We agree that, being in a position where we can make recommendations that people listen to, our statements are very important and how we phrase them is also very important,” he said.

So far, the Philippines has logged six COVID-19 cases with the more transmissible South Africa variant.

On Thursday night, the Philippines received its first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines from the WHO-led COVAX Facility. (MNS)

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