EDITORIAL | It’s a cruel blow, but SA has to follow expert ...

Ideas

EDITORIAL | It’s a cruel blow, but SA has to follow expert vaccine advice

As SA faces curveballs in the vaccine rollout, the difficulty is to find the balance between risk and rationality

Editorial

A recommendation by the US Food and Drug Administration yesterday to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine warrants serious conversation. It is investigating cases of an extremely rare blood clotting disorder in six women, all among the seven million recipients of the vaccine in the US. It developed within two weeks of them receiving the jab. One of the women died.

On the same day, in SA, it was reported that no cases of blood clots had been detected in the nearly 300 000 healthworkers who received the same vaccine. “To date we have not had any rare events. But, then again, we may need millions vaccinated before we see these rare events,” said professor Glenda Gray, co-principal investigator of the Sisonke implementation study and president of the SA Medical Research Council.

But on Tuesday evening health minister Zweli Mkhize took the cautious route and announced that SA would temporarily suspend its rollout of the J&J vaccine, saying the FDA decision could not be taken lightly. The suspension is until the "causal relationship between the blood clot and the vaccine is sufficiently interrogated". But, he added, he hoped this would be done within "a few days"...

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