Chairperson of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), Professor Helen Rees, says the decision to halt the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine rollout is due to extreme safety precautions in the country.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize yesterday announced the temporary halt of the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, while investigations into reports of rare blood clotting continue. This after the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a pause in the J&J single shot in the US.

Nearly 300 000 healthcare workers have already received the one-shot COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa.

“The role of SAHPRA as the regulatory authority is to look at the safety, quality and efficacy of all medicines in the public interest and safety is always at the top of that list. People have been worried about his that we gave developed these vaccines quite rapidly and people are saying, we are sure they are safe. That is why we are paying attention globally to any safety signals at all and being very cautious. The numbers are seeing is six in over six million doses so these are very small numbers of cases. We will have a discussion once we understood whether there is a causal link with these rare side effects or there is not,” says Professor Rees.

SAHPRA’s Prof Rees speaks to the SABC about the decision to halt J&J vaccine rollout:

SAMA supports decision to halt rollout:

Meanwhile, South African Medical Association (SAMA) Chairperson Dr Angelique Coetzee says, “Yes, it is good for the minister to temporarily halt the vaccination rollout for at least 24 – 48 hours while we gather some more information.”

“One also needs to look at the six people who claimed it was due to the J&J vaccine out of more than six million. In medicine terms, that is a very small number. One needs to always measure it up to what is for the better,” added Coetzee.

Dr Angelique Coetzee on Morning Live:

Mkhize calls on public not to panic

Mkhize has called on the public not to panic following the announcement that the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson has been suspended in South Africa.

Mkhize says the issue will be cleared in a few day’s time, “It’s precautionary halting. It’s not like we are closing down on Johnson and Johnson. As soon as the information is made available we are quite certain that we should move on. It might take a couple of days to resume but at this point, we think it might be the best way to deal with it.”