The injections of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine has come to a sudden halt in various countries across the continent due to rare blood-clotting syndrome emerging in six recipients.

The six recipients were all women between the ages of 18 and 48, and all developed the illness within one to three weeks of being vaccinated. All the six women who suffered what is called ‘cerebral venous sinus thrombosis’ are reported to have had low platelet counts. Frontline experts hypothesize that the vaccine activates platelets and leads to blood clots in channels that help transmit blood away from the brain. The blood clots can cause strokes or damage to the brain.

Action taken by European and Northern American states                                                                                                 

On the 9th of April 2021, the European Medicine Agency (EMA) announced its Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee (PRAC) were reviewing the Janssen COVID-10 vaccine safety signals, following reports of blood-clotting occurrences in four recipients of the Janssen vaccine in the USA. On 13th April 2021, due to concerns over the Janssen vaccine, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended a halt in the administering of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Janssen COVID-19 vaccine in African states

In a statement to African Union (AU) Member States, the African Centre for Disease Control and Preparation (Africa CDC) issued a statement consolidating the J&J vaccine predicament in Africa. The Africa Regulatory Taskforce has endorsed the Emergency Use Authorization for the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine.

At present, South Africa is the only member state permitting the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Registered by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), over 290 000 doses have been administered. On 13th April 2021, South African Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize announced that the country had no reports of any blood clots following the administering of the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. As a precautionary measure, South Africa has announced that the rollout of the vaccine will be halted to review and assess the situation alongside global regulatory authorities.

Recommendations from the Africa CDC to the AU Member States

The Africa CDC states, “As such rapid access to safe and effective vaccines is paramount to the African Union vaccination strategy to achieve control of the pandemic. Africa CDC will continue to monitor reports of adverse events following immunization, for all COVID-19 vaccines, including the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine, and will provide further guidance to Member States.”

 

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16 April 2021| by Sisipho Ntsabo                                                                   Relocation Africa