South African health regulator recommends resuming Johnson & Johnson vaccinations

South Africa’s health regulator recommended resuming use of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine, days after the country followed the United States with a break to assess the risk of blood clotting with the vaccine single dose.

Lifting the break should be conditional on “enhanced screening and monitoring of participants at high risk for blood clotting disorders,” and updated plans to treat vaccine-related clots, said over the weekend. South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. Expert ethics committees must also give their approval before the country can restart.

The J&J vaccine was the only one to be rolled out in South Africa, until the country suspended it on Tuesday, risking further disruption to vaccinations in Africa’s most industrial economy.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United States Food and Drug Administration have recommended indefinite suspension after six cases of a rare blood clotting disorder out of nearly 7 million doses administered in the United States . The use of the J&J vaccine in the United States remains on the table after experts said this week they lacked sufficient evidence to change their position.

No cases of blood clotting were recorded among the approximately 300,000 health workers vaccinated in South Africa before the suspension.

“The reason it is important to recognize this extremely rare side effect is that the management is different from the usual way of treating clots, and these serious complications could be alleviated with fast and effective treatments,” said this week the South African Medical Research Council.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government was under pressure to step up the slow pace of vaccinations even before the US hiatus interrupted its plans.

South Africa has recorded more than 1.5 million cases to date, the African country worst hit by the pandemic, especially after an intense second wave that hit the new year. Daily counts of new cases have dropped dramatically since then, but a third wave is widely to be feared.

South Africa switched to J&J at the last minute in February, after an initial plan to use the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine failed over evidence that it does not protect against milder disease in cases of ‘a variant that has become dominant in the country.

South Africa’s supplies of the J&J vaccine have been limited to date because the initial deployment among health workers took the form of a research study rather than commercially ordered deliveries.

Larger deliveries of J&J are expected from the end of the month and will be used in the second phase of the deployment, prioritizing elderly and vulnerable South Africans.

The Ramaphosa government has ordered 31 million J&J vaccines and 30 million two-dose vaccine from Pfizer to meet its goal of immunizing 40 million people. Online registration for people aged 60 and over began on Friday.

This week, the main opposition Democratic Alliance said that unlike South Africa, the United States has the “luxury” of being able to withhold the J&J vaccine because millions of Americans have already received injections from others. drug manufacturers.

“Stopping the administration of a vaccine does not affect them as much as it could impact South Africa, since we currently only have tiny amounts of this unique vaccine at our disposal,” said declared the party.

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