Sahpra worried about J&J vaccine's shelf life as it waits for FDA approval

Board chairperson of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), Helen Rees, said they're concerned about whether all the jabs would still be used if the US regulator did not give approval in time.

In this file photo taken on 5 March 2021 registered nurse Florisa N. Lingad holds a Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center established at the Hilton Chicago O'Hare Airport Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - There are major concerns about the delayed approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with experts worried about its shelf life as South Africa waits for the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA) to approve its use.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is waiting for the green light from the FDA, with thousands of jabs allocated for South Africa, waiting to be used, mostly with teachers in line to benefit.

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Board chairperson of Sahpra, Helen Rees, said that they were concerned about whether all the jabs would still be used if the US regulator did not give approval in time.

“They have a limited shelf life because they had already been taken out of the long-term conditions for storage. So as every day ticks by, the possibility of us being able to use all of them rapidly, if we can get them, if we get the go-ahead from the FDA, that starts to diminish,” Rees said.

She said they were putting pressure on the FDA almost on an almost daily basis to make sure the green light comes.

“And we've also been in touch with the head of the FDA, which is a political appointee. So we're trying to pressurise the FDA both from the technical staff point of view and from the political side. I also know that many other organisations are sharing our concerns and are also asking the FDA, the same question,” she added.

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