The first time a direct link between a death and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine was documented in South Africa was on Thursday, when the country’s health regulator reported a causal relationship.
Senior scientists said at a press conference that after receiving J&J’s Janssen vaccine, the patient developed the rare neurological illness Guillain-Barre Syndrome, which necessitated the individual being placed on a ventilator before they eventually succumbed to their injuries.
Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) was diagnosed as a result of an unknown cause, according to Professor Hannelie Meyer.
For concerns of privacy, no other information about the individual, such as his or her age, has been made public.
GBS has been linked to the administration of different vaccines and drugs, according to a statement from J&J sent through email, and can also be brought on by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Rare event detection and treatment should be made easier by improving knowledge of their symptoms and indicators, according to the business.
Authorities in the United States recently added a warning to a fact sheet for J&J’s vaccine, stating that research revealed an increased risk of GBS six weeks following vaccination. A total of 100 early reports of GBS among vaccine recipients were made at the time, with 95 cases being considered serious and one death being reported.
At the time of the U.S. alert, J&J claimed it was in conversations with authorities and the rate of reported cases of GBS in Janssen vaccination recipients only marginally exceeded the baseline rate.
A spokesperson for the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, told reporters that “the value of vaccination still outweighs the danger.”
First causally related GBS case: “In our setting, we have provided around 9 million (doses) of the Janssen vaccine.”
For the COVID vaccination from AstraZeneca, Europe’s drugs authority included GBS as a possible side-effect last year.
As of mid-July, little over 6,200 “adverse events” had been reported to SAHPRA out of the more than 37 million COVID vaccination doses delivered in South Africa, which equates to 0.017 percent of the total.
The regulator, according to Semete-Makokotlela, has reviewed around 160 deaths since the COVID immunisation rollout began, but until today, no causal relationship has been found between vaccination and death.
In its COVID vaccination effort, South Africa has utilised vaccines manufactured by J&J and Pfizer. As supplies became scarce and negotiations with pharmaceutical companies were drawn out, the rollout was hampered at first by uncertainty.
Almost half of the country’s 40 million adults have already been immunised.