Sahpra reviewing J&J Covid vaccine data on rare blood clots after US regulator limits use of shot

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  • The US FDA has limited use of the J&J vaccine citing potential blood clot threats.
  • Sahpra is reviewing the FDA data to determine if SA should follow suit.
  • The health department says it will continue using Pfizer and J&J vaccines until they run out or expire.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) says that it is currently reviewing data on the Johnson and Johnson Covid-19 vaccine potentially causing blood clots.

"Sahpra is in the process of reviewing the information as reported by the FDA together with the AEFI reports received and assessed locally, and will be issuing a media statement shortly to advise on the way forward," the body told Health24.

This comes after the United States restricted the use of the J&J vaccine after the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigated cases reporting thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). The FDA found a risk of TTS approximately one to two weeks following administration of the Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine. This warranted the body to limit the use of the vaccine to people over 18.

"The FDA has determined that the known and potential benefits of the vaccine for the prevention of Covid-19 outweigh the known and potential risks for individuals 18 years of age and older for whom other authorised or approved Covid-19 vaccines are not accessible or clinically appropriate, and for individuals 18 years of age and older who elect to receive the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine because they would otherwise not receive a Covid-19 vaccine," the body said in a statement.

SA to continue using J&J vaccines for now

The national health department told Health24 that it is not looking to restrict the use of the J&J vaccine unless Sahpra determines otherwise.

With only two vaccine options in rotation – Pfizer and J&J – the department says these will be the only options South Africans have, at least until the current doses run out.

"We have 11 million doses of Pfizer and 11 million doses of J&J. We will use them until they are either used or expired," says the national department's spokesperson Foster Mohale.

The country has struggled to reach the 45% mark of fully vaccinated people. Mohale says that the department has strategies to improve the slow vaccine uptake.

"The Department is working on various vaccine demand strategies to increase the uptake, and these include integrating vaccination services into regular health programmes such as school health programmes, working with large events organisers to take vaccination services to their venues; this is part of our taking vaccines to the people," he told Health24.

*For more Covid-19 research, science and news, click here. You can also sign up for our Daily Dose newsletter here.

READ | South Africa's Covid-19 resurgence: Is the worst over? We asked the experts

READ | No time for Covid-19 complacency – the pandemic is not over, experts say

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