You’re more likely to get struck by lightning than you are to suffer a COVID-19 vaccine-driven blood clot. However, safety is paramount within the scientific community. Six cases out of 6.8 million Johnson and Johnson jabs have proved to be enough to suspend the vaccination programme in South Africa – but the government believes this will only last a few days.
Why has the Johnson & Johnson vaccine been suspended?
The AstraZeneca shots went through similar tribulations last week. A total of 19 people from 20 million sampled developed rare blood clots as a result of getting these vaccines – but the chances of this happening to you are over ‘a million to one’, and the same goes for the Johnson & Johnson inoculations, too.
On Tuesday, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize stressed that the reaction to the findings on blood clots were merely a precaution. He doesn’t envisage a lengthy delay, and doubts that this will impact Mzansi’s much-maligned vaccine rollout – only 292 000 health care workers have received the jabs so far, but the programme is set to accelerate in May.
SA expert disputes decision to halt jabs
However, one leading expert going against the grain is Professor Barry Jacobson. He is the President of the Southern African Society of Thrombosis and Hemostasis. If anyone can be trusted on blood clots, this guy is right up there…
Jacobson said on Tuesday evening that he was ‘irritated’ with the pause in the vaccine rollout, citing that your chances of falling ill with thrombosis are much, much higher if you remain unvaccinated. He claims Mkhize’s decision ‘is wrong’.
“I’m saddened and irritated … this is not the correct thing to be doing. My advice would be not to stop it. COVID-19 itself causes huge thrombosis. I do not believe it warrants stopping the vaccination rollout. The risk of the virus causing thrombosis is so much greater than the risk of the vaccine”.
“I am of the strong opinion we should not be halting this [Johnson & Johnson vaccine] programme. COVID-19 is a serious disease. I have seen young people die. Halting the (J&J) vaccine for even a short period of time is going to be devastating to health care professionals. It is wrong to suspend the vaccinations”