By Kaya 959 News
National Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize, last night announced that South Africa would voluntarily suspend its Johnson & Johnson vaccine roll-out.
This comes after around six women in the United States reported experiencing blood clots just days after taking the vaccine. One woman has since died.
In an emergency media briefing, Mkhize said SA would suspend the programme as a precaution. This is despite having vaccinated close to 290 000 healthcare workers.
Local officials have not received any adverse health reports from those vaccinated.
“Having said that, after this advisory came to my attention I held urgent consultations with our scientists, who have advised that we cannot take the decision made by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lightly.
“Based on their advice, we have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” Mkhize said.
Blood clots occur within 13 days
The FDA reported that six women developed unusual blood clots with low platelets between six and 13 days after vaccination.
The women were between the ages of 18 and 48 years old.
The United States has inoculated over 6,6 million citizens with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.
Mkhize said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will collate information from J&J, the FDA, and other regulatory bodies.
The information will help the department to make a thorough assessment of the situation.
Mkhize has called for calm and patience.
“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.”
The minister said they do not expect a complete withdrawal of the J&J vaccine from the vaccination armament.
Vaccine rollout still on track
He also announced that SA has successfully negotiated for another 10 million doses from Pfizer – just under two million are due to be delivered in May.
“This, therefore, means we have secured 30m doses of Pfizer vaccine for this financial year, “Mkhize said.
He said in the “extremely unlikely event” that the J&J rollout is completely halted, they will still be able to proceed with phase two of the rollout with Pfizer.
Mkhize added that they are confident that the rollout of Johnson and Johnson will resume.
“With 30m doses of Johnson and Johnson and 30m doses of Pfizer secured we now have enough doses to exceed the 40m we were targeting this year.
“This is in line with our commitment to vaccinate as many people as possible in this financial year- in the ideal scenario we would vaccinate every single adult found in South Africa.”