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One year on, still no answers for man's GBS death after J&J vaccine

The wife of Capetonian Larry Davids, who fell ill 10 days after his J&J COVID vaccination, and who was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS) before he died last year, is still battling for answers about her husband’s death.

News24 reports that after they’d had the vaccine, her husband was struggling to breathe so she took him to Victoria Hospital in the Western Cape where he was given medication and sent home. A day later, he collapsed, and she took him to Groote Schuur Hospital. He was put on a ventilator and a few days later, she was told he had the rare autoimmune disease, Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). After a month in ICU, he died in September.

His widow said she was surprised at the beginning of August this year when the Health Department and the South African Health Products Authority (SAHPRA) announced the country's first death associated with GSB linked to the J&J vaccine.

At the time, SAHPRA CEO Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela said it was the first death the authority investigated that could be causally linked to the vaccine.

SAHPRA board member Professor Marc Blockman said GBS affected people’s immune systems: he said it affected 100 000 people annually, around the globe.

Davids, who has lupus and who said her husband used to take care of her, said she was battling to understand why his death had not been acknowledged.

She said she did not know at the time of his death that she had to report adverse events to SAHPRA or the Health Department. She has now reported the issue to SAHPRA for investigation.

SAHPRA spokesperson Yuven Gouden said they were aware of a GBS case. “However, due to Popia (Protection of Personal Information Act) compliance, we are unable to confirm that the case is for the referred person.”

He said that because the case was still under investigation, the death could not be attributed to the vaccine.

“This case was submitted with clinical notes and case investigation forms to the National Immunisation Safety Expert Committee (NISEC) after the province obtained the necessary case information. The NISEC has reviewed it and finalised it. There is a whole process that makes up the investigation process, which takes time.”

The National Health Department did not respond to questions.

Understanding the side-effects

J&J co-principal investigator in the Sisonke trial, Professor Glenda Gray, said she was unaware of the case, adding that GBS was rare but was associated with vaccination.

In the Sisonke trial, there were two reported cases of the disorder among nearly 500 000 healthcare workers. “We were fortunate that they were diagnosed early. When this is done, the outcome is less tragic.”

She said researchers and policymakers could have better communicated vaccine side-effects.

“What could we have done better as healthcare workers? Make sure people understand side-effects and what to do when they happen.” But she stressed that the side-effects were small compared to the benefits.

“Vaccination saves lives, and at a global level, it can help control COVID-19.”


News24 article – Cape Town woman demands answers one year after Covid-19 jab allegedly triggered husband’s death


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


First SA death directly linked to vaccine, but 37.5m others safe, says Sahpra


The legal dangers of rushed vaccines and pharma immunities


No-fault and no-claim provisions in amended vaccine-injury Compensation Scheme



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