The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) has confirmed the first direct link between the death of a person who took the J$J vaccine.

The person presented with the rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) soon after receiving the vaccine, after which the person was put on a ventilator and later died.

Professor Hannelie Meyer told the media that no other cause of GBS could be identified.

Last July, the American authorities did issue a warning about the J&J vaccine stating that their data showed an increased risk of GBS within the first six weeks after vaccination.

SAHPRA's Chief Executive Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said the benefit of getting the vaccine still outweighed the risk.

What is GBS

GBS is a very rare but severe adverse event that is associated with the administration of various vaccines and other medicines and can also be triggered by infections such as SARS-CoV-2. GBS is a rare condition affecting the body’s immune system. Symptoms of GBS can vary from mild to severe.

Symptoms include muscle weakness, muscle pain, numbness, and tingling and in extreme cases, it can cause paralysis, breathing problems and abnormal blood pressure or heart rate.

Health Minister Joe Phaahla says by mid-July there had been just over 6 200 “adverse events” reported to SAHPRA out of the more than 37 million Covid vaccine doses administered in the country, equivalent to 0.017%.

South Africa has made use of the J%J, Pfizer and Aztrazenica to fight Covid-19.

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