UNITED STATES: After reports of rare blood clotting, the US, European Union, and South Africa will temporarily stop the rollout of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Covid vaccination.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said that six cases were detected in more than 6.8 million doses of the vaccine.
The Johnson & Johnson supply which started this week has paused its EU rollout. Similar cases after doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were administered also prompted curbs to its use.
The temporary pause of the J&J jab was recommended “out of an abundance of caution,” the FDA said. It also added that one patient died from blood clotting complications, and another is in a critical condition. All the six cases were in women aged 18-48, showing symptoms post six to 13 days of vaccination.
Complying with the norms, all federal sites in the US have put the vaccine on hold until further investigations into its safety are completed with state and private contractors also expected to follow suit.
With more than 562,000 deaths, the US has by far the most confirmed cases of Covid-19 – more than 31 million.
Johnson & Johnson is a US health care company, but the vaccine also known as Janssen was developed mainly by its pharmaceutical branch in Belgium with laboratories in the Netherlands. Unlike a lot of other Covid vaccinations, a single shot of J&J is given and it can be stored at normal refrigerator temperatures, making it easier to distribute in hotter climates or more remote areas.
In the US, it was cleared for use on 27 February, however, the Pfizer-BioNTech Moderna vaccines have been used more widely. Of the total immunizations given so far in the US, 3% covers the J&J vaccine i.e. nearly seven million people.
South Africa, the first country to administer the vaccine, has also paused its use. However, no cases of blood clots have been reported in the country. The J&J dose became the preferred vaccine thereafter studies showed it had a higher protection rate against the South African variant compared to other jabs.
Johnson & Johnson issued a statement saying that it has shared all adverse event reports with the health care authorities, adding that at present no clear causal relationship has been established between these rare events and the Janssen (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine.