IN QUOTES | Vaccinations, precautions & scientific evidence: Zweli Mkhize speaks

14 April 2021 - 11:15 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced SA has halted its rollout of the J&J vaccine. File photo.
Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize announced SA has halted its rollout of the J&J vaccine. File photo.

The temporary suspension of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine rollout in SA is a precautionary measure until the causal relationship between the development of clots and the J&J Covid-19 vaccine is sufficiently interrogated.

This is according to health minister Zweli Mkhize, who provided an update on Tuesday night about the country’s response to blood clot concerns.

Mkhize said SA takes the concerns seriously and stakeholders were consulted before the decision to halt the rollout of vaccines was taken. 

The move follows the announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it would suspend administering the J&J vaccines in the US after six women developed unusual blood clots two weeks after receiving the jabs.

Here are five quotes from the health minister’s briefing:

Other factors to be considered

“We hope a lot of information will come to the fore. What will be important is if this issue is directly linked to the vaccine and what aspect of the vaccine. Secondly, is this something linked to environmental factors and underlying diseases.”

Decision to halt rollout was not rushed 

“We had consultations among our advisory teams and discussed the concerns with the medical research council and the ethics committees. The feeling is that because the announcement has come from the FDA, we would need to collate as much information as possible. As soon as information is made available, we can move on. We believe the concerns raised have to be taken seriously.”

Unclear when third wave might hit 

“We don’t have concrete information about when the third wave of Covid-19 infections might come. We have to continue to encourage the public to use face masks and make sure we keep distances and maintain pharmaceutical interventions. There was not much activity during the Easter period, which was very encouraging.”

Vaccine efficacy 

“We have secured the vaccines because we believe South Africans need to have an assurance there will be enough vaccines to protect them against Covid-19 for this year. We went for those with evidence they had more efficacy, and J&J was one of them.”

Pause is a precautionary measure

“What we are doing is just a precaution to get the information so when the public asks questions, we can give answers. We haven’t had a single case in SA yet that is showing a trend towards clotting disorders. Our numbers are still few to show any of those disorders ”