South African health regulator probes 28 deaths recorded after COVID-19 vaccine jabs

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An elderly person receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Yeshiel)
An elderly person receives a dose of COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination site in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 17, 2021. (Xinhua/Yeshiel)

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) said it was probing the deaths of 28 people who apparently died after receiving their COVID-19 vaccine jabs.

The study would be conducted to determine if these fatalities were directly linked to the vaccination in the country that is administering U.S. vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.

“We need to determine if the event that we saw is indeed related to the vaccine or related to something else. These are very comprehensive studies that would be conducted,” SAHPRA’s CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said.

This emerged after the SAHPRA on Wednesday told parliamentarians that there were reports of breakthrough infections after people were inoculated with Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

According to the National Health Department’s figures, around 5.5 million South Africans have been vaccinated. Over 1 million people have received the J&J vaccine and 4.5 million others got the Pfizer jab.

SAHPRA said they have received 3,730 reports of adverse events following immunization, and 279 reports of what it terms adverse events of special interest.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, the country on Wednesday recorded 16,240 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours with 516 COVID-19 related deaths. This brings the number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 2,327,472, and fatalities to 68,192.

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