SAHPRA monitoring COVID-19 breakthrough infections

Experts on Thursday said they were monitoring breakthrough infections; these are people who still test positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated against it.

An elderly woman receives her COVID-19 vaccine jab with the start of the second phase of South Africa's vaccine rollout on 17 May 2021. Picture: @GautengHealth/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has stressed it is worth getting a COVID-19 vaccination.

Experts on Thursday said they were monitoring breakthrough infections; these are people who still test positive for the coronavirus despite being vaccinated against it.

Early data shows the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines currently rolled out as part of South Africa's arsenal against the pandemic do provide protection against severe forms of the disease.

SAHPRA said a national strategy was in place to monitor and evaluate COVID-19 breakthrough infections.

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Board chairperson Professor Helen Rees explains how the process works, particularly in the context of the more transmissible Beta variant.

“They way they are being evaluated is first to say has this person had the vaccine, if yes, which vaccine? Secondly, comorbidities and who are they? Are they over 60 years old or they they have other risk factors?”

The severity of the disease is also being probed and whether the person has been hospitalised or not.

Rees highlighted the benefits of getting a COVID-19 inoculation.

“The most important thing we can do is to roll vaccines out as quickly as we can. Because if we can reduce the severity of the disease, we take that terrible burden off hospitals and we reduce mortality.”

These medical experts said the vaccines provided 100% efficacy against severe disease.

SAHPRA has reiterated it's an independent body - with its decisions guided by the scientific evidence.

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