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South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine

South Africa to resume administering Johnson & Johnson vaccine
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South Africa will resume administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine to health care workers after temporarily suspending its use last week amid concerns over rare instances of blood clots.

Acting Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said Thursday that South Africa took a “precautionary measure” when it suspended the vaccination program last week, following a similar move by the U.S.

Last week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a joint statement calling for a temporary halt in the use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, after six cases of blood clots were discovered in the more than 6.8 million people who had been inoculated.

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Ntshavheni added that South Africa’s “temporary suspension” was in line with its “commitment to ensure that comprehensive safety measures are undertaken regarding the vaccine rollout.”

She said reviewed data confirmed that South Africa had not experienced any of the blood clots. 

“The re-implementation will commence as soon as the department is ready with all the systems,” Ntshavheni said, adding that more than 295,000 health workers have received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine so far.

The Washington Post previously reported on the announcement.

The race to vaccinate everyone in South Africa is coinciding with the spread of the B.1.351 variant, which has been identified in 95 percent of the COVID-19 cases in the country.

In new clinical trial results published Wednesday, Johnson & Johnson found that its one-shot vaccine is 64 percent effective against moderate to severe or critical disease in South Africa, and that the efficacy is 82 percent against severe or critical disease beginning 28 days post-vaccination.