South Africa halts J&J vaccine jabs amid blood clot issueTuesday, April 13, 2021
BERLIN, Germany (AP) — South Africa has suspended giving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as a “precautionary measure” following the FDA decision in the United States to pause using it while very rare blood clot cases are examined.
South Africa has given more than 289,000 jabs of the J&J vaccine to the country's health workers without any reports of blood clots, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said Tuesday.
He said South Africa is halting the use of the J&J doses “out of an abundance of caution” and he expects that the questions over the J&J vaccine should “be cleared within a matter of days.”
Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a US probe into reports of rare blood clots in some recipients, moves that experts worry could further shake vaccine confidence and complicate COVID-19 immunization efforts.
The announcement came after regulators in the United States said they were recommending a “pause” in the single-dose shot to investigate reports of rare, but potentially dangerous blood clots.
“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” Johnson & Johnson said.
The delay is a further blow to vaccination drives in the European Union, which have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems and concerns over unusual blood clots in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The blood clot reports prompted several countries in the 27-nation bloc to limit the AstraZeneca vaccine to older age groups, which are more at risk from serious illness and death when infected with COVID-19.
The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are made with the same technology. Many leading COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the spike protein that coats the outer surface of the coronavirus. But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines use a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body. Johnson & Johnson uses a human adenovirus to create its vaccine, while AstraZeneca uses a chimpanzee version.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating six cases of unusual clots that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination. The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low blood platelets.
All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48, including one who died. The FDA commissioner said she expected the pause to last a matter of days.
The European Medicines Agency said it is “currently not clear” whether the J&J shot was responsible for the rare clotting disorders.
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