Johnson & Johnson delays vaccine rollout in Europe amid blood clots probe in US

Johnson & Johnson delays vaccine rollout in Europe amid blood clots probe in US
A dose of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (Matt Rourke/AP)

Johnson & Johnson has said it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a US probe into rare blood clots.

The company announced the decision on Tuesday after regulators in the United States said they were recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots.

“We have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities,” the company said.

“We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.”

Farmworkers arrive at a clinic administering the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine on Saturday in Immokalee, Florida (Lynne Sladky/AP)

Hundreds of thousands of doses of the vaccine were due to be shipped to Europe in the coming weeks.

It comes after the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a joint statement saying they were investigating unusual clots in six women that occurred six to 13 days after vaccination.

The clots occurred in veins that drain blood from the brain and occurred together with low platelets.

All six cases were in women between the ages of 18 and 48.

The reports appear similar to a rare, unusual type of clotting disorder that European authorities say is possibly linked to another Covid-19 vaccine not yet cleared in the US, from AstraZeneca.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the EU’s equivalent to the FDA, said it had already started reviewing the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to assess reports of blood clots in people who received the shot.

“These reports point to a ‘safety signal,’ but it is currently not clear whether there is a causal association between vaccination” with the Johnson & Johnson shot, it said.

Experts were “investigating these cases and will decide whether regulatory action may be necessary”, it added.

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