Picture: 123RF/SSILVER
Picture: 123RF/SSILVER

SA’s medicines regulator has found no evidence of a causal link between coronavirus vaccines and the deaths reported among people who had recently received the shots, parliament heard on Wednesday.

SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela told MPs that as of August 13, 51 deaths after Covid-19 vaccination had been reported to the National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (NISEC), a non-statutory body appointed by the health minister.

Thirty of the 32 investigations that had been completed were deemed to be coincidental, and there was insufficient information provided on the other two, Semete-Makokotlela told members of the health portfolio committee.

Among the completed investigations, 29 were probes into deaths following receipt of the Pfizer vaccine, and three came after the Johnson & Johnson jab.

The government is providing the single-shot J&J vaccine, and the double-dose Pfizer vaccine in its national immunisation programme, which began with a study for healthcare workers in February. Delays in the supply of J&J vaccines mean the government has so far administered more Pfizer shots: as of August 31, 2.8-million J&J shots and 9.7-million Pfizer jabs — 3.1-million of which were the second dose — had been administered.

The NISEC is also investigating 107 reports of serious adverse events after Covid-19 vaccines, including heart problems, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, and vascular problems, said Semete-Makokotlela.

Sahpra relies on individuals to report side effects, either through its Med Safety app, via the national Covid-19 hotline (0800 029 999), or at a healthcare facility such as a clinic.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za

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