South Africa has joined the United States in suspending the launch of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, after reporting that six women receiving immunization doses had developed unusual blood clots with a low platelet count. After I was struck by this advice, I held urgent consultations with our scientists, who have reported that we cannot take the decision of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lightly.
Based on his advice, we have decided to voluntarily suspend our implementation until the causal relationship between clot development and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently questioned, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement on Tuesday. in the evening. Mkhize stressed that there have been no reports of clots forming after the vaccines in South Africa, although 289,787 health workers have already received the vaccine. All cases of blood pot complications have arisen in the US.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority will collect information from Johnson & Johnson, the FDA and other regulatory bodies to make a thorough assessment of the situation and advise us as a regulatory body that has exercised its authoritative powers on the approval of the vaccine in its own right, Mkhize said.
The minister called for patience and said the discussion on the suspension could only take a few days. Hopefully the deliberations will only take a few days. Given the preliminary literature available, our scientists are confident that the FDA’s decision will be made preventively and we hope this will not result in the complete withdrawal of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the vaccination armament, he said.
We are confident that the launch of Johnson & Johnson will resume and therefore with 30 million doses of Johnson & Johnson and 30 million doses of Pfizer guaranteed, we already have enough doses to exceed the 40 million we were targeting this year. This is in line with our commitment to vaccinate as many people as possible during this exercise; in the ideal scenario we would vaccinate all adults in South Africa, the minister said.
The minister added that additional Pfizer vaccines would also not impede the government’s vaccine deployment plan. This also assures us that in the extremely unlikely event that Johnson and Johnson’s launch is completely halted, we will have no impediment to continuing the second phase of the launch with Pfizer, he said.
According to Johns Hopkins University, South Africa has so far lost 53,498 lives against COVID-19, along with 1,561,559 confirmed cases.
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