South Africa to conduct further inspection of J&J vaccine batches

South Africa to conduct further inspection of J&J vaccine batches
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South Africa’s health ministry said it will conduct further inspections on batches of Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccine following recently uncovered contamination issues at a Baltimore plant.

The South African Department of Health said in a statement on Friday that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will “soon advise” if doses made at a local plant were suitable for use.

“The vaccines awaiting distribution from the Gqebherha plant need further assessment by SAHPRA and SAHPRA will soon advise if they are suitable for use in South Africa,” the department said. “There is now a real possibility that they may not be, however this is for the regulator to rule on.”

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The statement came after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it authorized two batches of the vaccine that were produced at an Emergent BioSolutions plant.

The FDA didn’t specify how many doses were authorized, but The New York Times reported that 10 million doses were allowed to be distributed, while 60 million were deemed unsuitable for use.

The Emergent plant had been under scrutiny for months after being closed in April for a number of issues, particularly contaminating J&J’s vaccine with an ingredient from AstraZeneca’s vaccine. Both vaccines were being manufactured at the plant.

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Africa’s health ministry said it has cleared 300,000 doses of J&J’s vaccine to ship to South Africa “as a matter of extreme urgency.”

South Africa has launched phase 2 of its vaccine rollout, with the goal of vaccinating 5 million people over the age of 60 by the end of the month, Reuters reported.

The country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases reported on Thursday that the nation “technically entered the third wave” of COVID-19 infections.

The nation has recorded more than 1.7 million coronavirus infections since the pandemic began and more than 57,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.