EU countries to start using J&J shot

AAPAAP
The European Medicines Agency has backed the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
Camera IconThe European Medicines Agency has backed the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. Credit: AP

European countries are set to start using Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine and speed up their vaccination campaigns after Europe's drug regulator backed the shot and deliveries started trickling in after a week-long pause.

Germany's health ministry said it would start deliveries to federal states for use in vaccination centres shortly, and that family doctors should resume the use of the vaccine as of Wednesday.

Italy and the Czech Republication are rolling out the jab. The Netherlands planned to start using it next week, while France will receive the vaccine from week after next.

Just over 320,000 doses arrived in ten countries across Europe as of Wednesday, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Poland and the Netherlands made up the bulk of the cargoes, with 117,600 and 79,200 doses, respectively.

That's only a tiny portion of the 134 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines delivered since the rollout began almost four months ago and compared with the larger shipments from Pfizer -BioNTech over that time.

But the arrival of the fourth vaccine authorised for use in Europe offers hope as governments scramble to get shots in arms after a slow start plagued by production problems and safety scares.

The region is also battling a spike in infections that have forced some countries to reimpose lockdowns.

J&J is due to deliver 55 million doses of its vaccine to the EU by the end of June.

The new arrivals come after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) said on Tuesday that it found a possible link between J&J's vaccine and rare blood clotting issues in adults who received doses in the United States, but it said that benefits of the one-dose shot outweigh its risks.

J&J said on Tuesday it would resume shipments following the news, but did not give any details on the timing.

While the EMA said it considers the vaccine safe, it has left it up to the European Union's member states to decide how to use it, taking a similar stance to that with rival AstraZeneca's shot.

Meanwhile in Europe, nearly 200 anti-lockdown protesters were briefly detained in Germany's capital of Berlin when a demonstration became violent.

Elsewhere across the globe, COVID-19 cases are surging in India, with a record 295,041 new daily and more than 2000 daily deaths for the first time.

And Japan's government is preparing to announce a third state of emergency in Tokyo and the western metropolitan area around Osaka following requests from local leaders who say current measures are failing to curb a rapid rise in coronavirus infections.

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