South Africa – South African health authorities have reported the first vaccine related death in the country. This comes after a link was established between the death of an individual and the Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) vaccine.
Although nine million South Africans have taken the J&J vaccine, this is the first known death related to the vaccine. South African authorities confirmed the patient died from the neurological disorder called Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS). At the time of the illness no other causes for GBS could be found.
This vaccine related death is extremely rare
South Africa has been fighting the Covid-19 pandemic for two years by administering vaccines for the past one and a half years. In that time over 38 million vaccines have been administered. Nine million being the J&J vaccine without incidents, said Professor Charles Shey Wiysonge, Senior Director at the South African Medical Research Council. GBS is also a rare syndrome which medical professionals still don’t know much about.
“Guillain-Barre Syndrome is a very rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the nerves. We don’t know how this condition actually occurs but very often it occurs after Covid-19 infections and after other bacterial infections. The antibodies that are developed to fight the infection then start to fight the nerves and it occurs very rarely. That is what happened in this particular case.”
This will not change anything regarding the J&J vaccine
South Africans might be a little bit worried, but Wiysonge stressed that there is nothing to be worried about. The health authorities have checks to assess all health products that enter the country which include vaccines and medicines.
“The benefits of this vaccine far outweigh the very low risk of severe adverse events like Guillain-Barre Syndrome. We should have confidence in the vaccines. This is our best weapon against Covid-19. People should not be alarmed if they take the vaccine and if they feel any symptoms, they should report to the health facility because, Guillain-Barre Syndrome, most people recover from it. If it is discovered early, it can be treated.”
The rules and regulations around the world have been relaxed because of people taking vaccinations, said Wiysonge. Although Covid-19 is not a big issue as it was, people are still dying from it. It is still in the best interest of the public to get vaccinated.