South Africa has reportedly been struggling to meet its vaccination demand amidst the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, the country announced the withdrawal of nearly two million doses of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine after the announcement of a possible case of contamination at one of the pharmaceutical giant’s facility.
Notably, the US FDA declared that millions of J&J coronavirus vaccine doses developed at the company’s Emergent BioSolutions center in the city of Baltimore were not fit for use.
After a review of the FDA’s announcement, the SAHPRA (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority) claimed that it has decided to not release the vaccines manufactured using the drug substance batches that were not suitable.
As per sources, Johnson & Johnson’s Emergent facility was ordered to halt the production in April 2021 weeks after it was determined that batches of a particular solution used to develop the COVID-19 vaccines were contaminated from elements from another vaccine produced by AstraZeneca- a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical firm.
Reportedly, the exact number of doses in each batch has not been declared by the New Jersey-based multinational, however, they have corresponded to million vials.
Speaking about the hindrance in the vaccination program, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, the Health Minister of South Africa, commented that the nation had two batches, nearly two million doses that were stockpiled in a highly secure laboratory in Port Elizabeth that belonged to drugmaker- Aspen.
It is worth mentioning that South Africa is one of the countries promoting a waiver of patents on coronavirus vaccines with an aim to allow each nation to develop cost-effective generic versions.
At present, South Africa is depending on a delivery of nearly 31 million doses of the single-shot J&J jab to inoculate its 59 million citizens. To date, the country has vaccinated just more than one percent of its total population.
South Africa is the worst-hit African country by the pandemic, with over 1.7 million cases and 58,000 COVID-related deaths.