Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine linked to death, says SAHPRA

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority confirms causal link between a patient’s death and J&J vaccine.

On Thursday, SAHPRA confirmed one person had died from a rare disease after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) COVID-19 vaccine. “It is with sad hearts today that we confirm that SAHPRA has been informed of a fatal case of a syndrome called Guillain-Barré (GBS). This was a case noted following vaccination with the COVID-19 Janssen vaccine,” said SAHPRA CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela. The condition affects 100 000 people a year across the globe and is characterised by a rapid and ascending weakness, with the body’s immune system damaging the nervous system.“The causality assessment was conducted…and there is a conclusion that this case of GBS was associated with the individual who had received the COVID-19 Janssen vaccine,” added Semete-Makokotlela.

According to Professor Hannelie Meyer, the chairperson of National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (NISEC), which investigated the case, the patient presented symptoms of GBS soon after vaccination and required hospitalisation. “What we found, in this case, is that indeed it was a case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome and we know that this is a very rare event, but it has been diagnosed in this person,” said Meyer. According to Meyer, there were no other causes for GBS that were identified in the patient. The patient whose details cannot be disclosed is said to have been on a ventilator which led to further complications and infections. So far, more than nine million J&J vaccines have been administered in the country so far, with a total of more than 20 million inoculated.