SA pauses J&J vaccine rollout

SA pauses J&J vaccine rollout

South Africa's Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination roll-out programme has come to a grinding halt. 

zweli Mkhize second wave

Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says their decision to temporarily suspend the programme was informed by developments in the US.

Health authorities there called for a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson jab - over blood clot fears. It's after at least six women developed blood clots after inoculation and low platelets. 

One of them died - another's in a critical condition. 

Mkhize says although there aren't any cases of people developing blood clots after taking the vaccine in our country - they've temporarily suspended the roll-out of the shot, as a precautionary measure. Under the Sisonke Protocol, over 292-000 health care workers have received their jabs. 

Mkhize held a media briefing last night on the FDA's advisory.

 Health products regulator SAHPRA  is investigating. 

"I humbly call for calm and patience as we ensure that we continue to be properly guided by science in ensuring the safety of our people as we roll out the vaccine campaign." 

"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 and Johnson vaccine from the vaccination armament." 

Mkhize has also announced that Pfizer's being added to South Africa's vaccine arsenal.  The country's secured another 10 million doses of the Covid-19 jab. 

Almost two million will arrive in next month's consignment. This means South Africa has secured 30 million doses of the shot. 

And if the J&J vaccine is cleared for use in South Africa again, we'll have 60 million vaccines. 

READ: NEHAWU welcomes J&J suspension

"This also reassures us that, in the extremely unlikely event that Johnson and Johnson's rollout is completely halted, we will not have any impediment to proceeding with phase two of the rollout with Pfizer. W don't however, anticipate the J&J will be halted permanently.  

"We are confident that the rollout of Johnson and Johnson will resume and we now have enough doses to exceed the 40 million we were targeting this year." 

Mkhize said we'll still honour our contract with Johnson & Johnson - as investigators look into the blood clot concerns. "There will not be a renegotiation of the contract because there is no need yet. There is no causal link being identified and therefore we will continue on the basis of what we got at this moment." 

America's top expert on infectious disease, Dr Anthony Fauci, says they're recommending the vaccine's not administered until they examine these clotting cases in more detail. 

"This is a really rare event. If we look at what we know so far, there have been 6 out of the 6.85 million doses which is less then one in a million."  

Meanwhile, 67 more people have died, after they contracted coronavirus in South Africa. The country's death toll's increased to 53-thousand 4-hundred and 23 now. Another 8-hundred and 47 people have tested positive for the virus, in the last 24 hour period. 

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