South Africa Rejects Second Batch of COVID-19 Vaccines, This Time From Johnson & Johnson

South Africa will dispose of at least two million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deemed them unusable following ingredient contamination concerns at a Baltimore facility, the Associated Press reported.

This is the second batch of vaccines rejected by South Africa, which turned away approximately one million AstraZeneca vaccines earlier in 2020. One study determined that those vaccines, sold to South Africa by the Serum Institute of India, provided little buffer against mild to moderate infections by the COVID-19 variant that is common in the country.

South Africa's vaccination campaign has been largely unsuccessful, as just a little more than 1 percent of the country's population of 60 million have received doses so far. The country was planning to use the discarded J&J doses to vaccinate health care workers and citizens 60 or older.

The South African plant that manufactured the contaminated doses can produce 200 million J&J doses every year, but the two million discarded doses the country was planning to use to boost vaccine rollout were produced with contaminated ingredients from the Baltimore plant, the Associated Press reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

South Africa J&J Vaccines
A nurse gets a temperature check before receiving a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19 coronavirus as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign at the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban on February 18, 2021. Mlungisi Mbele/AFP via Getty Images

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority issued a statement saying it had "reviewed the data provided by the FDA and has made a decision not to release vaccines produced using the drug substance batches that were not suitable."

South Africa will now only receive 300,000 doses of the J&J vaccine which have been cleared by the FDA, it said.

Aspen will begin production of new J&J vaccines using fresh, uncontaminated ingredients at its facility this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced this week.

South Africa has purchased and is expecting delivery of 30 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 31 million single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines by early 2022. These deliveries are necessary for South Africa to achieve its goal of vaccinating 40 million people by February 2022.

South Africa is currently experiencing a new resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic with an increased number of recorded infections. Its 7-day rolling average of daily new cases has more than doubled over the past two weeks from 5.69 new cases per 100,000 people on May 30 to 12.17 new cases per 100,000 people on June 13.

It recorded 7,657 new infections and 59 deaths in the last 24 hours, bringing to 57, 765 the number of people who have died from the virus.

South Africa has been the hardest hit by COVID-19 on the continent, with more than 1.7 million confirmed cases, representing nearly 40 percent of the more than 5 million cases reported by Africa's 54 countries.

SA Prince Mshiyeni Hospital
Healthcare workers receive the first batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines against the COVID-19 coronavirus as South Africa proceeds with its inoculation campaign at the Prince Mshiyeni Hospital in Umlazi, south of Durban on February 18, 2021. The country announced it would reject about two million J&J vaccines believed to have been manufactured with contaminated ingredients. Mlungisi Mbele/AFP via Getty Images