One person has died as a result of receiving the Janssen Covid-19 vaccine, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) confirmed.
During a press briefing earlier today, Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Joe Fahla said that 37.2 million doses of Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines had been administered.
He confirmed that as of July 15, 2022, there were just over 6,200 reported side effects in SAHPRA, representing 0.017% of the number administered.
Dr Phaahla said that these cases were analyzed and feedback was provided.
However, it was the administration of the Janssen vaccine, which was approved for administration in March 2021, followed by a booster dose approved later in December 2021, that resulted in one fatality directly related to receiving the vaccine.
Dr. Tumi Semete, CEO of SAHPRA, announced the death and confirmed that it was directly related to the Janssen vaccine. She said the patient had developed what is known as Guillain-Barré syndrome, a rare condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves.
It mainly affects the feet, hands, and limbs, causing problems such as numbness, weakness, and pain. Guillain-Barré syndrome affects people of all ages, but is more common in adults and men.
The commission, however, declined to provide any information about the deceased, citing an obligation to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patients.
“Although 9 million doses of the Janssen vaccine have been administered, only one death has been reported. The patient developed symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine. This led to prolonged hospitalization and mechanical ventilation,” she said.
She emphasized that it should be noted that the development of the syndrome was very rare and that the vaccine is still safe.
The health professionals on the team, including the deputy minister, stressed that the risk of vaccination was significantly less than the side effects of vaccination.
Dr. Helen Rees, one of the panellists, said that vaccination is still being encouraged as it prevents the severity and hospitalization of Covid-19.