Another batch of COVID-19 vaccine has been rejected by the South African government. This time, the government have approved the disposal of at least two million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed them unusable.
This is the second batch of vaccines rejected by South Africa, which turned away approximately one million AstraZeneca vaccines earlier in 2020. One study determined that those vaccines, sold to South Africa by the Serum Institute of India, provided little buffer against mild to moderate infections by the COVID-19 variant that is common in the country.
South Africa’s vaccination campaign has been largely unsuccessful, as just a little more than 1 percent of the country’s population of 60 million have received doses so far. The country was planning to use the discarded J&J doses to vaccinate health care workers and citizens 60 or older.
The South African plant that manufactured the contaminated doses can produce 200 million J&J doses every year, but the two million discarded doses the country was planning to use to boost vaccine rollout were produced with contaminated ingredients from the Baltimore plant, the Associated Press reported.
The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority issued a statement saying it had “reviewed the data provided by the FDA and has made a decision not to release vaccines produced using the drug substance batches that were not suitable.”
South Africa will now only receive 300,000 doses of the J&J vaccine which have been cleared by the FDA, it said.
Aspen will begin production of new J&J vaccines using fresh, uncontaminated ingredients at its facility this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week.
South Africa has purchased and is expecting delivery of 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 31 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines by early 2022. These deliveries are necessary for South Africa to achieve its goal of vaccinating 40 million people by February 2022.
In Africa, South Africa records the highest number of coronavirus cases with more than 1.7 million confirmed cases, representing nearly 40 percent of the more than 5 million cases reported by Africa’s 54 countries.
A new resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic is currently been experienced in the country. Its 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has more than doubled over the past two weeks from 5.69 new cases per 100,000 people on May 30 to 12.17 new cases per 100,000 people on June 13.
It recorded 7,657 new infections and 59 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing to 57, 765 the number of people who have died from the virus.