COVID: South Africa to resume vaccine rollout with J&J jab

Decision comes after Johnson & Johnson vaccine was temporary suspended for a possible link between the jab and blood clots.

A healthcare worker receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign [File: Phill Magakoe/AFP]

South Africa has announced it will resume its vaccination rollout with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a temporary suspension for a possible link between the jab and blood clots.

The one-shot vaccine will be administered again starting from Wednesday.

It had been put on hold after six people in the United States developed blood clots after inoculation prompting the US government to briefly suspend its use.

“It has since been established there is a one in a million chance of getting the clot after the vaccine and that it appears that women between the ages of 18 and 48 years old are particularly at risk,” read a statement from South Africa’s health ministry published on Monday.

“With such a low probability of developing a clot, all the regulators across the world have recommended the continued use of Johnson and Johnson.”

The ministry also said that the South African regulator, SAHPRA, added a requirement that all participants need to be informed of the potential risk.

The South Africa government said that the country now has enough shots to inoculate 500,000 health care workers out of 1.2 million.

Many hopes have been staked on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to roll back the pandemic in developing countries, as it is just a single-shot jab that does not need to be kept at ultra-low temperatures.

For South Africa especially, the vaccine represents a key component to its national rollout as the country had already excluded the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a small study found that it was less effective in preventing mild to moderate diseases caused by a local variant dominant in South Africa.

According to US data presented on Friday, of 3.9 million women who got the Johnson & Johnson shot, 15 developed serious blood clots and three died.

The majority of the confirmed cases, 13 of the 15, were aged under 50. There were no reported cases among men.

South Africa has officially recorded more than 1.5 million coronavirus cases, including 54,000 deaths.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies