Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa would voluntarily and temporarily suspend the roll-out of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine following the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the temporary suspension of the use of the vaccine in the United States.
“Based on their advise, we have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” said Mkhize in his statement.
“We hope that the deliberations will only take a few days. Given the preliminary literature on hand, our scientists are confident that the FDA’s decision is on a precautionary basis and we expect that this will not result in the complete withdrawal of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine from the vaccination armament.”
Earlier on Tuesday the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the country halt the use of the Johnson & Johnson single-dose COVID-19 vaccine after six reported cases where patients developed rare and severe blood clots.
Reports emerged of 6 females who developed unusual blood clots with low platelets. These incidents occurred between 6 and 13 days after vaccination in women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old. It is noted that over over 6,6 million citizens have been inoculated with Johnson and Johnson vaccine in the U.S.
South Africa has already administered the same vaccine to almost 290,000 healthcare workers and more doses are en route for use in the mass vaccination drive.
The US health authorities stated that the recommended “pause” in the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was “out of an abundance of caution”.