Sept. 29, 2021


4 min read

Lesotho approves J&J vaccine for emergency use

Lesotho approves J&J vaccine for emergency use

Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle

Story highlights

  • EMA says vaccine has a 66% efficacy rate
  • Sekatle confirmed 5 deaths in Leribe not related to J&J

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LESOTHO is part of 40 global countries that have approved the use of the Johnson and Johnson (J&J) vaccine for COVID-19 related emergencies after the vaccine was temporarily suspended due to records of deaths and rare blood clotting incidents associated with it in some countries.

According to J&J, the vaccine “is a single-dose vaccine that is adenovirus-based. Adenovirus is a live, yet weakened pathogen and this vaccine is a viral vector type that uses this pathogen and its way of getting the COVID-19 vaccine. A vector is a way of delivering the COVID-19 recombinant vaccine. Such recombinant vaccines require genetic material from the virus, in a small portion, for there to be an immune response.” 

About a month ago, the Minister of Health, Semano Sekatle presented a preliminary report that confirmed that the use of vaccine was not in any way related to the five deaths that had occurred in that district earlier.  

He said the deaths in questions were thoroughly investigated by two teams of both home and international health experts.  

According their findings, Mr Sekatle said three of the deaths were caused by a combination of complications including COVID-19, heart attack, high blood pressure, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis (TB).  

“The fourth death was mainly caused by anesthesia shock which is rare and happens once in a million times, while the fifth one was due to a combination of complications including heart attack, high blood pressure and failure by the patient to adhere to anti-retro virus (ART) medication,” the Minister had said. 

This week, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), a European Union (EU) agency in charge of evaluation and supervision of medicinal products issued an emergency and conditional authorisation for the J&J vaccine for individuals aged 18 years and older and the vaccine has been approved for emergency use in 40 countries including Lesotho.  

In its report, the EMA said like most COVID-19 vaccines, the J&J also has its own side effects. For its part, the World Health Organisation (WHO), a United Nations (UN) agency that connects nations, partners and people to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable says while it continues to monitor the safety responses from other agencies, the J&J vaccine is safe and effective against severe risks of COVID-19. 
The United States Food Drug Administration (FDA), a federal agency of the Department of Health and Human Services responsible for protecting public health had previously recommended a pause in the use of the vaccine.    

This was a precautionary measure following a small number of rare blood clot incidents, at the same time; J&J delayed the distribution of the vaccine in Europe while the EMA conducted its own review. 

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On April 20, J&J announced it would resume distribution of the vaccine in the EU area but with safety warning, after the EMA concluded that the vaccine’s benefits continue to outweigh its risks. 

The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was launched on February 27, 2021. It became the third vaccine against the coronavirus to get emergency use authorisation from the FDA.

J&J says it was confirmed from the clinical trials that its vaccine is 66% efficient as a single COVID-19 vaccine dose. 

After suspending the vaccine in the United States a few weeks ago, the FDA recently recommended the resumption of its use.  

EMA and FDA reports on the J&J vaccine reveal that the vaccine has a 66% efficacy rate, while this is lower than the efficacy rate of other vaccines, adding that it should be noted that the clinical trials of the J&J vaccine took place in different contexts, globally in regions where variants were more prevalent and in the U.S during a period of significant increase in COVID-19. Lena/Metro 


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