Epidemiologists investigate Deaths of vaccinated persons in Leribe

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By Lineo Ramatlapeng

Five deaths of persons inoculated with the Johnson & Johnson / Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine are now under investigation in Leribe by a team of epidemiologists assisting Lesotho to understand the epidemiological facts that led to the deaths.

As the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination is being rolled out across Lesotho, the Minister of Health Semano Sekatle said the ministry is aware and deeply saddened by the deaths of five people in Leribe “after immunization with the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine”.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, and communities of the affected individuals,” said Minister Sekatle.

Sekatle explained that the government through the National Expert Committee on AEFIs and with the support of the WHO and partners, called a committee of international experts to support their investigation into the deaths following inoculations with the Johnsons & Johnson Vaccine.

“The team has been on the ground reviewing epidemiological facts and investigation,” he said.

As they await the results of the investigations and final report, Sekatle asked the media and public to allow the team time to complete their important work.

Sekatle said severe adverse events following immunization are very rare and added that COVID-19 vaccines have been safely administered to over four billion people globally, and the benefits of protecting people from severe illness or death from COVID-19 disease outweigh any potential risks.

For that reason, Sekatle said the government will continue vaccinating people in all districts and plans to reach remote areas in place.

Sekatle added that mild to moderate side effects after vaccination is normal signs that the body is developing protection against COVID-19.

Possible side effects, Sekatle said include a “sore arm, tiredness, mild fever, body or headaches which are all unlikely to last more than a few days, and can be managed with rest, drinking plenty of fluids and medication for fever and pain if necessary”.

Sekatle said any symptoms that persist or worsen should be discussed with a healthcare professional and that anyone who has received a COVID-19 vaccine and has any concerns should contact an appropriate healthcare professional or health facility.

He said the ministry will continuously monitor the use of COVID-19 vaccines to identify and respond to any safety issues that might arise and through that process to assure they remain safe for use.