S. Africa Halts J&J Vaccine Rollout Pending Probe, Says Mkhize

South Africa has halted the rollout of Johnson & Johnson vaccines after health agencies in the U.S. recommended it’s suspension, citing concerns about rare and severe blood clotting side effects.

South Africa will suspend its vaccine rollout “until the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize told reporters on Tuesday. “We hope that the deliberations will only take a few days. Given the preliminary literature on hand, our scientists are confident that the FDA decision is only on a precautionary basis and we expect that this will not result in the complete withdrawal of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine from the vaccination armament.”

Six women between the ages of 18 and 48 were found to have the blood clotting side effects according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration. As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, the agencies said Tuesday in a joint statement.

More than 289,000 people have received the Johnson & Johnson inoculations as part of the government’s vaccine rollout in South Africa. No adverse blood clotting side effects have been recorded as a result of the vaccine, Mkhize said.

“We don’t anticipate that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be halted permanently,” he said. “We believe it’s a matter that will be cleared in a matter of days.”

Mkhize will brief lawmakers on the Johnson & Johnson clinical trials, vaccines procurement and progress in the vaccination rollout program on Wednesday.

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