Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has labelled the reported Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine contamination of two million doses a setback to the country’s immunisation progress.
EWN reports that she was speaking at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital in Soweto during a stop on the first leg of her national tour.
This, in reaction to the J&J vaccine contamination news which resulted in the doses — currently at a plant in Gqeberha — initially being placed on hold. It has since announced that they will no longer be used.
“Two million doses that are affected but currently in the store warehouse in Gqeberha, so obviously we can’t ignore the fact that it takes our vaccine to roll out a bit backwards,” she said.
Last week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced that 60 million doses of the J&J vaccines, manufactured in Baltimore, be destroyed over fears that the vaccines may have been contaminated at the plant.
“The vaccines awaiting distribution from the Gqeberha plant need further assessment by Sahpra [South African Health Products Regulatory Authority] and Sahpra will soon advise if they are suitable for use in South Africa. There is now a real possibility that they may not be, however this is for the regulator to rule on,” the Department of Health said in a statement on Friday evening.
“Furthermore, the FDA announced that, after careful evaluation of these doses, they approved an extension of the expiry date after determining that the vaccine can be stored in 2-8 degrees Celsius [normal bar fridge] for four-and-a-half months instead of three months.”
After the J&J vaccine contamination news, the FDA announced that it is still evaluating remaining batches for safety.
The South African health department said it was “hoping that this will make more doses of Johnson & Johnson available”.
Compiled by Kaunda Selisho