DA calls for speedy conclusion of Sahpra probe into J&J Covid-19 vaccine
The DA has called on the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to quickly finalise its probe into the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine so that healthcare workers can resume receiving vaccinations.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said South Africa would pause the roll-out of the J&J vaccine.
This following the US decision to put the brakes on the J&J roll-out due to incidents of blood clotting.
The FDA, the US health authority, cited a small sample of reported cases of blood clots in people who were administered the vaccine in that country.
In South Africa, no such cases have been reported, but Mkhize said the government had decided to adopt a cautionary approach and halt the current roll-out. More than 280 000 health-care workers have been given the J&J jab as part of a research trial.
The DA said it did not support Mkhize's decision and labelled it as "drastic".
The party's spokesperson and MP, Siviwe Gwarube, said a threat of a third wave affecting health-care workers and vulnerable people far outweighed the blood clots risk flagged by the US.
"The statistical significance of 6 people out of close to 7 million who have had adverse effects in the US pales in comparison to the devastating impact a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections could have," Gwarube said.
She said Sahpra and Mkhize had to quickly conclude investigations. Gwarube said it seemed the government was passing the buck on the vaccine issue.
"The risk of adverse effects is negligible when compared to the risks associated with a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections.
"We call on the minister and Sahpra to conclude these deliberations and assure South Africans that this is not merely a scapegoating exercise to shield the government from accountability," she said.
"This kind of ‘stop-start’ approach could be incredibly damaging to the public perception of vaccination when the risks seem almost negligible statistically and scientifically," Gwarube added.
Meanwhile, the EFF has supported the halt to the J&J roll-out. The party has encouraged the government to procure Covid-19 vaccines from Russia and China.
Mkhize also announced that the country had secured an additional 10 million Pfizer vaccine doses. This brings the total of Pfizer doses to 30 million.