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Mkhize: Suspension of J&J jabs shows authorities prioritising citizens’ safety

South Africa has halted the rollout for now, off the advice of American officials after a rare and severe type of blood clot was recorded in six women after being given the Johnson & Johnson shot in America.

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gets his J&J COVID-19 vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital on 17 February 2src21 Picture: GCIS

FILE: Health Minister Zweli Mkhize gets his J&J COVID-19 vaccination at Khayelitsha Hospital on 17 February 2021 Picture: GCIS

JOHANNESBURG – Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that temporarily suspending the further rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was indicative of medical authorities prioritising the safety of people.

South Africa has halted the rollout for now, off the advice of American officials.

More than 6,8 million of these Johnson & Johnson inoculations have been administered in the US, while here at home more than 292,000 health workers have been vaccinated.

A rare and severe type of blood clot has been recorded in six women after being given the Johnson & Johnson shot in America.

READ: In full: Zweli Mkhize’s statement on suspension of J&J vaccine rollout

In South Africa, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that following the US Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation, officials met with researchers leading the Sisonke Study, the Ministerial Advisory Committee and the South African Medical Research Council.

“Based on their advice, we have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollouts until the course of the relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been interrogated.”

Mkhize has stressed that no cases of blood clots have been recorded locally.

“Sahpra will collate information from Johnson & Johnson, the FDA and other regulatory bodies to make a thorough assessment out of the situation and advice us as a regulatory body that has exercised the authoritative powers on the approval of the vaccine in their own right.”

The minister hoped that deliberations would only take a few days and that the vaccinations would resume.

South Africa is set to start its mammoth phase 2 vaccination drive next month.

The South African Health Products Regulator (Sahpra)’s Professor Helen Rees has emphasised that its mandate was to ensure that drugs like vaccines were safe.

“When we roll it out, we have information about safety on whether it works on tens of thousands of people. When we roll it out, it goes to millions of people and when you roll it out to millions of people, you have to be able to not only look for safety signals but you also have to be able to say ‘is that safety signal actually to do with the vaccine or is it just because things happen when you roll out things to millions of people?'”

Sahpra earlier this month approved the commercial rollout of the Johnson & Johnson treatment.

Mkhize has called for calm while the scientists that he was consulting with put their heads together.

“We are in contact with the Africa Centre for Disease Control, we are also in contact with the WHO, who have offered to give us advice at any time so that we are guided by all the views that is coming from this kind of situation.”

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