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First Death Causally Linked To COVID Vaccine Reported From South Africa

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South Africa’s health regulator reported on Thursday a causal link between the death of an individual and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine. This the first time such a direct link has been presented in the country.

The person returned with rare neurological disorder Guillain-Barre Syndrome soon after being given J&J’s Janssen vaccine, after which the person was put on a ventilator and later died, senior scientists told a news conference.

“At the time of illness, no other cause for the Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) could be identified,” Professor Hannelie Meyer said. The victim’s age and other personal details were not disclosed to maintain confidentiality.

In an emailed statement J&J said that GBS was associated with the administration of various vaccines and other medicines and can also be triggered by SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The company insisted it strongly supported creating awareness of the signs and symptoms of rare events to ensure they can be quickly identified and effectively treated.

Multinational media agency Reuters reported that, last July, U.S. authorities added a warning to a factsheet for J&J’s vaccine saying data suggested there was an increased risk of GBS in the six weeks after vaccination. At the time it noted 100 preliminary reports of GBS in vaccine recipients, including 95 serious cases and one reported death.

“The benefit of vaccination still far outweighs the risk,” Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela, chief executive of the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), told reporters. “In our context we have administered about 9 million (doses) of the Janssen vaccine, and this is the first causally linked case of GBS.”

Europe had added GBS as a possible side-effect of AstraZeneca’s COVID vaccine which. Just like the J&J vaccine, AstraZeneca also uses viral vector technology.

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