South Africa Declares J&J Shots Safe, Roll-out Set to Resume
(Bloomberg) -- South Africa will resume administering Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines to health-care workers on April 28, after putting their use on hold for two weeks due to concerns that they could be linked to blood clots.
“It has since been established there is a one-in-a-million chance of getting the clot after the vaccine, and that it appears that women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old are particularly at risk,” Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said in a statement. “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is effective, easy to use and it is still considered safer to get vaccinated with it than not to.”
The resumption of the inoculation program is a boost for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, which has been contending with Africa’s worst coronavirus outbreak and criticism that it has not been proactive enough in securing vaccines. Almost 1.58 million Covid-19 cases have been detected in South Africa and more than 54,000 of those diagnosed with the disease have died.
The single-dose J&J shots were given to 292,623 health workers as part of a drug trial that enabled normal regulatory procedures to be bypassed prior to their use being put on hold. The vaccine has since been approved for general usage, and the government intends to begin administering it and a two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE to those over the age of 60 from May 17.
Sufficient vaccines have been secured for 45 million adults, with a first batch of 1.1 million of J&J shots that were produced at an Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. plant in the Eastern Cape province due to be dispatched in coming days, according to Mkhize. The country will receive 650,000 Prizer doses before May 17, and another 325,560 the week after that.
“It has been a difficult start for our country with the vaccination roll-out,” the minister said. “Despite all the challenges we have faced, we still have a positive outlook both for the recovery of public health.”
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