Deputy Health Minister Dr. Joe Phaahla’s response to opposition parties in Parliament on Friday, that the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine that is being administered to health workers has not been formally registered with the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), has put a spotlight on vaccine licensing.

Phaahla also revealed that the vaccines being used in the rollout were part of a batch J&J was using to conduct expanded research in terms of human trials.

This put him under fire from MPs as they accused government of acting unethically and lying to the public.

The vaccine proves to 57% effective to moderate to mild diseases caused by COVID-19 and 85% effective in respect to COVID-19 diseases that are quite severe. It is effective as opposed to the AstraZeneca vaccine which was proven not to be effective to the variant, 501Y.V2.

In February, government started administering the vaccine to healthcare workers under a clinical trial program called Sisonke, which was approved by SAHPRA as it awaits the registration process.

The infographic below shows the clinical trials that a vaccine goes through and how it is licensed:

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