There has been no case of blood coagulation disorders following vaccinations in Africa, but the World Health Organisation's (WHO) global advisory committee on vaccine safety is closely monitoring the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six women in the USA developed blood clots.

This was revealed by the WHO's Africa programme area manager for immunisation and vaccine development, Dr Richard Mihigo, during a webinar on Thursday.

Because of the blood clots, the US Food and Drug Administration suspended the rollout of the J&J vaccine.

Shortly after the announcement, South Africa also suspended its plans for the rollout of the vaccine.

Mihigo said there had been "no case of blood coagulation disorders reported following vaccinations in Africa". Mihigo said surveillance systems show the vast majority of reports are either mild to moderate side-effects.

He said the top reported side-effects in Africa are headache, fever, nausea, pain and numbness on the side of the injection.

Mihigo said there are over 4.3 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Africa, while over 45 countries are vaccinating.

More than 13.8 million doses of the vaccine have been administered, and Mihigo said there are encouraging signs that Africa's monitoring and reporting systems are working well.

"In recent days, we have seen the United States take precautionary measures by suspending the rollout of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine [after] reports of blood clots following vaccination. As we have seen, South Africa also announced it will temporarily halt the vaccine rollout.


"The World Health Organisation's global advisory committee on vaccine safety is closely following developments and will share any findings as soon as possible."

Mihigo said nearly three million lives have been lost to Covid-19 across the globe - and the WHO considers the benefit of the vaccine far outweighs the risks.

He said the Covid-19 vaccines are safe and can significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and death.  

During the webinar, doctors said people were likely to see more side-effects of Covid-19 vaccines after being vaccinated. These side-effects would not have been seen during the clinical studies.

SA Health Products Regulatory Authority CEO Tumelo Semete explained that there are limitations when it comes to clinical trials as the vaccine is tested on a small number of people.

Semete said: "As you start to rollout, there are side-effects that you never saw in the clinical trials because, with the rollout, you are now availing it to a much larger population group than you would have in the clinical trial.

"We will continue to monitor these as they come through - but, at this point, we have not seen this effect to the same extent, if any, in the South African context."