COVID-19

Johnson & Johnson suspends EU vaccine deliveries over blood clot concerns

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it will delay rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine in Europe following six cases of a rare type of blood clot in the United States.
Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it will delay rollout of its Covid-19 vaccine in Europe following six cases of a rare type of blood clot in the United States. Mark RALSTON AFP/File

The European Commission has said it is seeking clarification from Johnson & Johnson after the US drugmaker announced it would suspend deliveries of its Covid vaccine pending review of blood clot risks. France is among several EU countries counting on the vaccine to boost its immunisation campaign.  

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On Tuesday, the US company said it would delay the rollout of its vaccine in Europe and was working with European health authorities to review cases of rare blood clots in people who received the jab. 

“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” the company said in a statement

The announcement came after US federal health agencies recommended pausing the use of the vaccine after cases of rare blood clots appeared in six women under 50 about two weeks after receiving the dose. 

The announcement come the week that Johnson & Johnson began the rollout of its vaccine across Europe, raising concern about vaccine supplies to EU member states. 

June target called into question

It remains unclear whether the delay would affect the delivery target of 55 million doses to the European Union by the end of June – a target the company set last week. 

“The European Commission is in contact with the company,” an unnamed official told Reuters agency, adding that the delay was “completely unexpected”. A commission spokesperson said the EU’s executive body had no immediate official comment. 

France was banking on its share of doses to keep building momentum in its vaccine campaign.

Belgium said it would not stop its rollout at this stage, the Netherlands’ regulator said benefits outweighed risks and Spain said it was not aware of any delays. 

More than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have already been administered in the United States, where health authorities say blood clots are extremely rare.  

The delay comes after the AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK was linked with similar, extremely rare blood clots. 

(with newswires)

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