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S/Africa bans use of tainted J&J vaccines – Agency

South Africa's coronavirus rollout programme has run into problems following the withdrawal of millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines after…

South Africa’s coronavirus rollout programme has run into problems following the withdrawal of millions of Johnson & Johnson vaccines after the United States drug authorities determined that the jabs were contaminated for use, APA learnt on Monday.This comes after the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) withdrew two authorised batches of the drug substance produced by Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore, Maryland in the United States after it was determined that several others were not suitable for use in vaccinations.

Due to this, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said it had decided to wait for the batches which were free from any contamination before resuming the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines in this country.

“SAHPRA reviewed the data provided by the FDA and has made a decision not to release the tainted Johnson & Johnson vaccines,” SAHPRA Chief Executive Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said.

He added: “SAHPRA focuses on the quality, safety and efficacy of all health products, including Covid-19 vaccines, and we will ensure that the safety and well-being of South Africans will not be compromised in any way,” Semete-Makokotlela said.

This development means that the country’s vaccination rollout programme, which started in mid-February after the local medical authorities dumped the UK AstraZeneca vaccines in favour of the single dose US drugs, will be delayed till the new drugs replace the condemned batches.

SAHPRA, however, assured South Africans that some 300,000 doses from batches that were cleared by the FDA, which meet the requirements, would eventually be released and shipped to South Africa.

South Africa is currently using another US-made vaccine, Pfizer, which requires two doses to achieve efficacy as opposed to the favoured single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

“We remain committed to the success of the South African mass vaccination campaign and are doing everything in our power to source safe and effective vaccines for all people residing in South Africa,” the health ministry said.

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