The Borneo Post (Sabah)
US pauses Johnson & Johnson vaccine over blood clot fears
WASHINGTON: US health authorities have recommended pausing the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 shot over blood clot fears, with the company announcing it would delay its European rollout in a setback for global immunisation efforts.
Out of nearly seven million Americans who have so far received the single-dose vaccine, six women between age 18 and 48 developed a rare type of clot in the brain, officials said.
One later died, while another is in critical condition.
US Food and Drug Administration scientist Peter Marks has said the disorder might be triggered by a rare immune response to the vaccine similar to that seen in a few hundred recipients of the AstraZeneca jab in Europe.
“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe,” J&J said.
US authorities are conducting a probe which could result in tough regulatory choices, such as restricting the J&J vaccine to older people.
People who have received the shot within the past three weeks were asked to report to their doctors if they experienced severe headaches, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath.
The White House said it was confident there would be no “significant impact” on vaccination plans in the world’s hardest-hit country, where almost half of all adults have now received at least one dose.
Meanwhile in Germany, people under the age of 60 who have received a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will receive a different jab for their second dose, federal and regional health ministers said.
Germany has suspended distribution of the two-dose vaccine to people under 60 due to concerns over a possible link to rare blood clot cases.
But while J&J paused output, Pfizer said it increased production and could deliver 10 percent more doses than expected to the United States by the end of May.
That would bring its delivery by the end of next month to 220 million doses, its CEO Albert Bourla said, adding that it can also “supply the full 300 million agreed on ... two weeks early.”
South Africa also suspended its J&J shot rollout, delaying an already sluggish campaign which has so far only administered this vaccine.
But the European Medicines Agency said it was continuing to carry out its own investigation, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country still expected its first shipment of the shot by the end of April.