Probe under way to determine possibility of blood clots being caused by J&J COVID-19 vaccine

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The Co-Chair of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on COVID-19, Barry Schoub, has sought to explain potential reasons behind the rare occurrence of blood clots forming – following the administering of a vaccine.  

This after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that six cases of rare blood clotting were detected following the rollout of more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. 

In the cases, a type of blood clot called Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). 

South Africa has also paused its use, although no cases of blood clots have been reported in the country.  

Nearly 300 000 healthcare workers have already received the one-shot vaccine in SA.  

Schoub says investigations are ongoing to determine whether there is the possibility of the vaccine causing blood clots.  

There is the one thing that is being investigated – both the AstraZeneca and J&J are using what’s called the Adenovirus vectorwhich is fairly harmless and is quite prevalent and that is used to carry the gene, or the vector, which is used to stimulate the immune response for protection. It is that particular vector that seeks to carry the Adenovirus which is being looked at. Could that possibly be what’s triggering these clots? But I must emphasize that at this stagethere is no evidence that these clots are related to the vaccine. This is just something that is being investigated at the moment.”  

Experts unpack South Africa’s halting for the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine:  

FDA findings not be taken lightly 

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says that findings of the FDA in recommending that the J&J COVID-19 vaccine rollout be halted must not be taken lightly 

“After this advisory came to my attention, I held urgent consultations with our scientists, who have advised that we cannot take the decision made by the FDA lightly. Based on their advice, we have determined to voluntarily suspend our rollout until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is sufficiently interrogated,” he adds. 

Mkhize says the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will gather information from J&J, FDA and other regulatory bodies to thoroughly assess the situation before advising government regarding the vaccine.

Mkhize hopes suspension of the rollout is temporary:

The US Centres for Disease Contol Advisory Committee on Immunisation Practices is expected to meet on Wednesday to discuss these developments, while the FDA launches an investigation. 

Both agencies say it’s important for the healthcare provider community to be aware of the potential for these adverse events. 

SABC News Correspondent Sherwin Bryce-Pease unpacks the decision by the USA to suspend the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine: