Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it is delaying the rollout of its coronavirus vaccine in Europe amid a US probe into reports of rare blood clots in some recipients. The announcement came after regulators in the United States said they were recommending a “pause” in administration of the single-dose shot to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. “We have been reviewing these cases with European health authorities,” Johnson & Johnson said. “We have made the decision to proactively delay the rollout of our vaccine in Europe.” The delay is a further blow to vaccination drives in the European Union, which have been plagued by supply shortages, logistical problems, and concerns over unusual blood clots in a small number of people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The blood clot reports prompted several countries in the 27-nation bloc to limit the AstraZeneca vaccine to older age groups, which are more at risk from serious illness when infected with COVID-19. The Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines are made with the same technology. Many leading COVID-19 vaccines train the body to recognize the spike protein that coats the outer surface of the coronavirus. But the J&J and AstraZeneca vaccines use a cold virus, called an adenovirus, to carry the spike gene into the body. Johnson & Johnson uses a human adenovirus to create its vaccine, while AstraZeneca uses a chimpanzee version. The EU ordered 200 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson in 2021. Britain ordered 30 million doses of the J& J vaccine, though UK regulators have not yet approved its use.
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