South Africa, lagging behind in vaccination and which has just entered a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, announced on Sunday June 13 to withdraw two million Johnson & Johnson (J & J) vaccines, due of“A problem of non-compliance” when manufactured in the United States.
The South African Medicines Agency (Sahpra) said in a statement to have “Made the decision not to distribute vaccines produced from batches of inappropriate drug components”.
“We had placed a lot of hope on J & J in our vaccination plan because it is a single dose vaccine”, recognized President Cyril Ramaphosa from the G7 summit in England, during a press conference.
US authorities announced on Friday that “Several lots”, or several million doses, manufactured in Baltimore in the United States and whose production had to be stopped several weeks ago, will have to be discarded. Tests had revealed that components of the Swedish-British AstraZeneca vaccine, made at the same factory, had been mistakenly mixed with J & J’s formula.
“We cannot leave the South”
South African Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said on Saturday that the two lots concerned represent “Two million doses” and are currently stored in a high-tech laboratory in Port Elizabeth (south). South African pharmacy giant Aspen imports the components of the J&J vaccine from this site and packages them on site.
In front of the leaders of the seven richest countries, Cyril Ramaphosa notably reiterated his request to temporarily suspend the patents on anti-Covid vaccines, in order to allow each country to produce generic versions at low cost.
“If the goal is indeed the one we have agreed on, which is to vaccinate the world, then we must make the vaccines available”, he hammered in front of the press. “We cannot vaccinate the North and leave the South”, added the South African president, who has repeatedly denounced a “Vaccine apartheid” favoring rich countries.
Most affected country on the continent
South Africa is counting on the delivery of 31 million doses of the J&J vaccine to immunize its population of 59 million. The country has managed to obtain 30 million doses of Pfizer, but this two-shot vaccine needs to be stored at very low temperatures. A new delivery of 300,000 J & J vaccines “Approved” is due to arrive on Tuesday, South African authorities said.
The government had already temporarily suspended the vaccine in April, after cases of blood clots in the United States. In February, he had also waived 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca, after doubts about its effectiveness against the local variant Beta.
Lagging behind the rest of the world, South Africa has vaccinated just over 1% of its population, its campaign to immunize the elderly did not start until the end of May. The African country officially the most affected, South Africa has more than 1.7 million cases, including nearly 58,000 deaths. Over 9,300 new infections have been identified in the past 24 hours.