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MPs reassured that J&J COVID-19 vaccine legally part of an extended study

Parliament’s Health committee members questioned Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla about the study, raising a number of concerns and calling on the department to clarify.

FILE: Nurse Zoliswa Gidi-Dyosi was the first person in South Africa to receive the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, 17 February 2021. Picture: Siya Duda.

CAPE TOWN - The Department of Health said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccines being administered to health workers were technically and legally part of a study.

The department on Friday briefed Parliament’s health committee about the vaccine rollout.

The committee meeting comes exactly a year after the first COVID-19 case was recorded in South Africa.

Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla has again reassured Members of Parliament that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was part of an extended study.

GALLERY: Day 1 of South Africa's COVID-19 vaccine rollout

However, he said that earlier tests had shown excellent results against the South African variant, which was why the department was rolling it out to health workers.

"So the approval is already there for the human trials, so this vaccine is already, in terms of this report, is as a result of vaccine injections to South Africans and therefore we're able to have this report."

Committee members questioned Phaahla about the study, raising a number of concerns and calling on the department to clarify.

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP Siviwe Gwarube: "If members of the committee themselves are slightly confused about which is which, whether or not the first phase of the rollout in its entirety is a trial and if so, are healthcare workers very much aware of it and what will be made of the second and third phase of the rollout?"

The committee is expected to get another briefing from the team leading the Johnson & Johnson vaccine investigation next week.

WATCH: National vaccine rollout finally gets under way

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