Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has called for calm as South Africa temporarily suspends its Covid-19 vaccine rollout plan for a second time. The announcement follows the advice of a temporary suspension on the J&J/Janssen Covid-19 vaccine by the United States Centres for Disease Control (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” said Mkhize.
A rare and severe type of blood clot was identified in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 after receiving the J&J vaccine. Symptoms of this unique type of thrombus occurred six to 13 days after the women received their vaccination.
It is expected that the CDC will conduct a meeting with its advisory committee on Wednesday 14 April 2021 to further review the cases and assess their potential significance.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will collect information from Johnson & Johnson, the FDA and other regulatory bodies to make a thorough assessment of the current situation in the country.
“We hope that the deliberations will only take a few days. Given the preliminary literature on hand, our scientists are confident that the FDA’s decision is on a precautionary basis and we expect that this will not result in the complete withdrawal of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the vaccination armament,” the health minister said.
As of Monday 12 April 2021, South Africa had administered 289 787 doses of the J&J vaccine to healthcare workers.
Mkhize also announced some encouraging news in the form of additional vaccine doses that are on their way to South Africa. The country managed to secure another 10-million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, bringing its total of that vaccine to 30-million. The first shipment of two million doses is expected in May.
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