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 a blood clotting disorder”, and updated plans to treat any vaccine-related clots, the South Authority said. -African health product regulation this weekend. 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 . Use of the J&J vaccine in the United States remains on hold after experts said this week they lacked sufficient evidence to change their position.
No cases of blood clotting were recorded among the nearly 300,000 health workers who were 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 quick and effective treatments,” the research council said. medical clinic in South Africa this week.
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 in the new year. The daily number of new cases has since declined significantly, 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 J&J vaccine have been limited to date because the initial deployment among health workers took the form of a research study rather than ordered deliveries to the market.
Larger deliveries of J&J are planned from the end of this 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 vaccines 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 other manufacturers. drugs.
“Stopping the administration of a vaccine does not impact them as much as it could impact South Africa, as we currently only have small amounts of this unique vaccine,” the party said.