Johnson & Johnson delays Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Europe

Tuesday, April 13
EUROPE


 (Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Johnson & Johnson said on Tuesday it would delay the rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine in Europe and was reviewing cases of extremely rare blood clots in people after they received the shot.

The US is recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

In a joint statement Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said they were investigating clots in six women that occurred in the days after vaccination. 

“Until that process is complete, we are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, Principal Deputy Director of the CDC and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research said in a joint statement.

They are recommending that people who were given the J&J vaccine who are experiencing severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after receiving the shot contact their health care provider.

The J&J vaccine received emergency use authorization from the FDA in late February with great fanfare, with hopes that its single-dose and relatively simple storage requirements would speed vaccinations across the country. 

Yet the shot only makes up a small fraction of the doses administered in the US as J&J has been plagued by production delays and manufacturing errors at the Baltimore plant of a contractor.

Last week the drugmaker took over the facility to scale up production in hopes of meeting its commitment to the US government of providing about 100 million doses by the end of May.

Until now concern about the unusual blood clots has centered on the vaccine from AstraZeneca, which has not yet received authorization in the US. Last week, European regulators said they found a possible link between the shots and a very rare type of blood clot that occurs together with low blood platelets, one that seems to occur more in younger people.

The European Medicines Agency stressed that the benefits of receiving the vaccine outweigh the risks for most people. But several countries have imposed limits on who can receive the vaccine; Britain recommended that people under 30 be offered alternatives.

But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines are made with the same technology. Leading Covid-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the spike protein that coats the outer surface of the coronavirus. 

But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines use a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body. J&J uses a human adenovirus to create its vaccine while AstraZeneca uses a chimpanzee version.

Source: Newsday/News Wires/France 24