One death confirmed directly related to Covid-19 vaccine

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 held earlier today, Deputy Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla reported that 37.2 million doses of Johnson&Johnson and Pfizer vaccines have been administrated.

He confirmed that as of 15 July 2022, just over 6 200 adverse events were reported to SAHPRA – translating to 0.017% of those administrated.

Dr Phaahla said that these cases were analysed and feedback was provided.

However, it was the administrating of the Janssen vaccine – that was approved for administration in March 2021, and then the booster later approved in December 2021 – that saw one fatality with cause directly linked to the receiving of the vaccine.

Dr Tumi Semete, CEO of SAHPRA, announced the fatality and confirmed that it was directly linked to the Janssen vaccine. She said the patient had developed what was called Guillain-Barre syndrome which was a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks its 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 it is more common in adults and males.

The panel, however, refused to provide any information on the deceased, citing the obligation to the protection of the patients privacy and confidentiality.

“While 9 million doses of the Janssen Vaccine was administered, only one fatality was reported. The patient developed symptoms shortly after receiving the vaccine. This resulted in prolonged hospitalisation and mechanical ventilation,” she said.

She stressed that it must be noted that the development of the syndrome was a very rare occurrence and that the vaccine was still safe.

Health professionals on the panel, including the Deputy Minister, stressed that the risk of getting vaccinated was significantly less than experiencing adverse effects from receiving the vaccination.

Dr Helen Rees, one of the panellists, said that vaccination was still encouraged as it prevented severity and hospitalisation as a result of Covid-19.