The Johnson and Johnson vaccine roll-out in South Africa has been temporarily suspended. This comes after six women in the US, between the ages of 18 and 48, developed a rare blood-clotting disorder after getting the vaccine. One case was fatal and one remains in critical care.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize made the announcement during an online media briefing on Tuesday evening that the roll-out part of the Sisonke Implementation study would be halted.
Mkhize's announcement comes after the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended a pause on the issuing of the vaccine over “potentially dangerous'” blood clotting concerns.
The FDA said it would investigate these cases, however, until the process was completed, it has recommended a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an “abundance of caution”.
Mkhize said the Department of Health has noted the decision taken by the FDA to advise the temporary suspension of the J&J roll-out in the US.
“We have determined to voluntarily suspend our roll-out... I humbly call for calm and patience as we ensure that you will continue to be properly guided by science and ensure the safety of our people as we roll-out the vaccine campaign. We hope that the deliberations will only take a few days.
More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J (Janssen) vaccine have been administered in the US.
The J&J vaccine is part of the Sisonke implementation study roll-out and close to 290 000 health-care workers have received the shot.
South Africa has procured 31 million of the J&J one-dose vaccine.
The company said in a statement it would delay the roll-out of the vaccine in Europe.
“We are aware of an extremely rare disorder involving people with blood clots in combination with low platelets in a small number of individuals who have received our Covid-19 vaccine.”
Mkhize said meetings will be held with the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), the Ministerial Advisory Committee (MAC) and the Africa Center for Disease Control (CDC).