South Africa

Covid-19: Patient dies after Johnson & Johnson vaccine leads to rare disease

  • A patient diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome shortly after receiving the Covid-19 Johnson & Johnson vaccine has died.
  • An investigation by South Africa’s Health Products Regulatory Authority and the National Expert Committee on Immunization Safety found that the patient’s death was linked to the vaccine.
  • The Ministry of Health and Sahpra continue to encourage people to get vaccinated as the risk of death is low.

A person has died of a rare immune disease after receiving a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine, South Africa’s Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) confirmed on Thursday.

Sahpra CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said: “It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of Sahpra’s fatal case of Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). This case was detected after vaccination with the Covid-19 Janssen vaccine.

“A causality assessment was carried out … and it was concluded that this case of GBS was linked to the person who received the Covid-19 Janssen vaccine.”

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Sahpra did not disclose details about the patient.

Semete-Makokotlela said this was the first death that had been investigated and found to be causally related to the vaccine.

The health ministry and Sahpra encouraged people to continue getting vaccinated, saying the risk of death was small.

Sahpra board member Professor Marc Blockman said GBS affects the patient’s immune system. He said the disease affects 100,000 people worldwide each year. “It is characterized by rapid and increasing weakness. Weakness starts in the lower limbs and moves up the body. It may have an effect on the respiratory system…and the brain as well.”

He said it can be caused by viruses, bacteria and some medications and vaccines.

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The case was investigated by the National Immunization Safety Expert Committee (NISEC).

NISEC president Professor Hannelie Meyer said: “What we found in this case is indeed Guillain-Barré syndrome, and we know it’s a very rare event, but this person was diagnosed.”

He said the commission looked into what caused the syndrome. “No other cause of Guillain-Barré was discovered in this individual at the time of illness.”

Meyer said the patient developed GBS symptoms fairly soon after the vaccination and needed hospital treatment. He said the person was on a ventilator. “It led to further complications and infections and ultimately death.”

So far, more than 9 million J&J vaccines have been administered in the country, Semete-Makokotlela said. Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said only 6,200 adverse events had been reported to Sahpra.

Professor Helen Rees, chairman of Sahpra’s board, says the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.

“We have already lost 100,000 people in South Africa to Covid. The only thing vaccines do very well is prevent serious illness and death. As regulators, it is our responsibility to inform the public but also to reassure them that we are investigating these incidents.”

Covid-19: Patient dies after Johnson & Johnson vaccine leads to rare disease

Source link Covid-19: Patient dies after Johnson & Johnson vaccine leads to rare disease

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