Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)
Provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete. Picture: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Dr Cloete says pausing J&J vaccine roll-out was the ethical thing to do

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Apr 16, 2021

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Cape Town - Even though South Africa has vaccinated 500 000 healthcare workers using the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine with no blood clots registered as side-effects, pausing the vaccinations was the ethical thing to do, according to the provincial head of health Dr Keith Cloete.

Speaking during Premier Alan Winde’s regular weekly digicon Dr Cloete said: “We understand that such decisions have big implications for trust in the vaccine, the disruption of the programme but weighing all of these things up we have to understand the reason behind the pause.

“The big issue is that the J&J vaccine in this country has been made available via the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) for trial conditions and as such we are bound by ethics to be cautious.

“When an event like the six clots in 6.6 million people was announced publicly by the FDA to say they are putting a pause to study the context of those cases our scientific community and the ethics committee here were bound by that decision because internationally the product we are using has been for trial conditions.”

In his presentation Cloete said that in the event that the decision to pause the J&J vaccines is lifted, the plan was to scale up vaccination during April to complete Phase 1, with an expected arrival of Pfizer and J&J doses by the end of April 2021/beginning May 2021.

Premier Winde thanked the public in the province for managing to keep the pandemic curve flat.

“Our teams on the ground are watching closely for any outbreaks or clusters that occurred during the Easter weekend. As yet nothing has been identified,” said Winde.

Meanwhile, DA parliamentary health spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube said the party was opposed to the decision to halt the roll-out of the J&J vaccines.

“Sahpra is said to be investigating adverse effects that can be attributed to the use of the J&J vaccine. This investigation needs to be concluded speedily in order for South Africa to resume and significantly ramp up the roll-out of this life-saving vaccine which has been an unmitigated disaster thus far.”

Cape Argus

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