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Lifting of Johnson and Johnson vaccine suspension welcomed

File picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

File picture: Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

Published Apr 23, 2021


Cape Town - Cabinet has welcomed the lifting of the suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine saying this will help ramp up the inoculation of healthcare workers.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said just less than 300 000 healthcare workers have been vaccinated so far.

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Health Minister Zweli Mkhize recently told Parliament that the suspension was for a few days as scientists were investigating.

Ntshavheni yesterday indicated that Cabinet has supported the decision to halt the suspension.

“The temporary suspension in South Africa was in line with government’s commitment to ensure that comprehensive safety measures are undertaken regarding the vaccine roll-out. The reviewed data had confirmed that South Africa had not experienced any rare blood clots with the already vaccinated healthcare workers,” said Ntshavheni.

She said local scientists will continue to monitor people who were vaccinated.

The government has promised that it wants to push up the number of people who are vaccinated.

Ntshavheni said Cabinet had also backed the decision to sign a contract with J&J for the full rollout of the vaccination programme.

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“Furthermore, Cabinet welcomed the successful negotiation of an additional 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which brings the total doses of the Pfizer vaccine to 30 million. This means South Africa will be able to vaccinate 15 million people with the Pfizer vaccine instead of just 10 million,” said Ntshavheni.

The second phase of the rollout will begin next month with people who are over 60 years old urged to register into the system.

Mkhize has said that they want to reach the target of 67% of the population to be vaccinated by the end of the year.

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But opposition parties had questioned this given the slow pace of the rollout.

Ntshavheni said while people have been adhering to health protocols they were worried about increases in the last two weeks.

“However, the report also indicated a slight increase of 4,9% in persons testing positive in the past 14 days, by 18 April 2021. The cases increased from 14 113 in the preceding 14 days to 14 807 cases in the last 14 days.

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The slight increase in cases is attributed to cluster resurgences in the Free State and Northern Cape, and rapid response teams have been activated to conduct contact tracing,” said Ntshavheni.

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Political Bureau