Just what we didn’t need to hear… two million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine in South Africa are possibly contaminated.
A probe conducted in the United States revealed safety protocols were not followed at the manufacturing facility at Emergent BioSolutions in Baltimore. Due to contamination, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discarded about 60 million doses made at the Baltimore plant – closed for two months because of regulatory concerns.
Acting Health Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane confirmed these vaccines, in a warehouse in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, would not be used.
We only recently continued with the roll-out of the single jab J&J vaccine following a voluntary temporary break after eight women in the United States experienced adverse side effects, including blood clotting issues, after receiving the jab.
As the number of Covid infections soar as most of the provinces experience a third wave, the last thing we needed was yet another setback.
We were slow out of the blocks in procuring vaccines, making our programme one of the slowest in Africa. We have only been administering vaccines to the over-60s category for a month now, while most of the health workers have received their inoculations after a slow start. It’s believed that we need to administer at least 40 million jabs to achieve herd immunity, yet only around two million doses have been administered.
Unless Africa receives 225 million more doses, the World Health Organisation revealed that nine out of 10 African countries will miss the September target of vaccinating 10% of their population.
Good news is that a batch of 300 000 J&J jabs will be shipped to South Africa as a matter of urgency, but no details have been released.
Let’s hope there are no further setbacks.