300,000 J&J vaccine doses cleared to be shipped to SA as a matter of urgency

As for the vaccines stuck at the Aspen Pharmacare plant in Gqebherha, the department said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) needed to assess those.

FILE: 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 - The Department of Health says 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been cleared to be shipped to South Africa as a matter of urgency.

This followed the US Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) emergency use approval for two batches of the vaccine at a plant in the US.

The agency had put a temporary hold on the batches amid fears of contamination.

The doses of the vaccine have also had their expiry dates extended.

As for the vaccines stuck at the Aspen Pharmacare plant in Gqebherha, the department said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) needed to assess those.

They will make a call on whether they are suitable for use in South Africa.

The Health Department goes on to warn in its statement that there is now a very real possibility that they may not be.

The delay surrounding the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has put a spanner in the works of government's vaccine rollout as the bulk of the doses acquired for rollout here were from Johnson & Johnson.

The current rollout is using the Pfizer vaccine, a jab that needs careful storage at sub-zero temperatures.

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