SA temporarily suspends J&J vaccine rollout after US calls halt over clotting
The announcement that South Africa will temporarily suspend the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine follows a similar recommendation by US health authorities.
The US bodies called for a halt because of "an abundance of caution" after six cases were reported of a rare form of blood clotting following the use of the J&J vaccine.
The six cases were reported out of a total of 6.8 million vaccinations worldwide.
Giving a live vaccine update, SA Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said he does not believe the move will result in the complete withdrawal of the J&J vaccine from South Africa's "vaccine armament".
We also want to assure citizens that these kinds of reports are expected to emerge as part of a robust post-market surveillance system, and this will provide comfort that medical authorities keep a vigilant watch on new products... to ensure that they remain safe and effective for human consumption.Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health
It is for this reason that we implemented the Sisonke protocol and we'll also implement a similar post-market surveillance study for Pfizer with the rollout of first batches to healthcare workers.Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health
Mkhize also announced that negotiations for an additional 10 million Pfizer vaccine doses have been successful.
Just under 2 million doses are expected to arrive in early May.
This means a total of 30-million Pfizer shots have been secured for this financial year.
This assures us that, in the extremely unlikely event of the Johnson & Johnson rollout being completely halted, we will not have any impediment to proceed with our Phase 2 rollout with Pfizer.Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health
We believe the J&J matter will be cleared in a matter of days... We are confident our rollout will resume and so, with the 30 million doses of Johnson & Johnson as well as the 30 million from Pfizer secured, we now have enough doses to exceed the 40 million target we had set for the year.Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health
The minister urged South Africans to be supportive of the experts and scientists working to provide answers on the J&J development.
In this regard, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is meeting on Tuesday evening.
This will be followed by a meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) on vaccines on Wednesday morning.
More information will be relayed to the public in the next few days, Mkhize said.
Listen to the minister's update below:
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