South African Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize has announced that the country would temporarily halt its Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This follows the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) temporary suspension of the vaccine in the United States after six recipients developed a rare blood-clotting disorder.
According to The New York Times, all six recipients were women aged between 18 and 48, and each of them developed the illness within one to three weeks of vaccination. “We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” says Dr Peter Marks, FDA Director for Biologics Evaluation and Research.
As it stands, no South African recipients have reported experiencing blood clots following the vaccine. However, Mkhize says that they will not take the FDA’s caution lightly.
“It’s important to be aware that with any vaccine it is essential to closely monitor its safety and efficacy. If a problem is reported following a vaccination, a thorough investigation should take place,” he adds.
Pfizer is set to distribute 20 million doses of its COVID-19 Vaccine to South Africa – starting mid-April. This comes after the pharmaceutical company managed to resolve contractual conditions that weren’t in line with South Africa’s normal procurement policies, revealed Department of Health deputy director-general, Anban Pillay.
According to Bloomberg, the Pfizer-BioNTech version will be “used to kick-start the rollout after a decision not to use AstraZeneca Plc’s shot, which was found to offer little protection against mild forms of COVID-19 in a local trial”.