Johnson & Johnson on Monday, March 29 said that it will be starting with the delivery of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine to Europe from April 19. This comes as a boost for the continent when it is struggling to speed up its vaccination drive. The Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine was approved by the bloc in mid-March after they approved the vaccines by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca.
Earlier this month, Canada became the first country in the world to approve four vaccines against COVID-19 after the country’s health regulators cleared a Johnson & Johnson shot. In contrast to its opponents, the J&J vaccine requires only one shot and with the approval, Health Canada is now hoping for an expedited vaccination drive in the country. At present, Canada has approved vaccines developed by AstraZeneca/Oxford, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. The vaccine developed by J&J has shown an efficacy rate of 66 per cent overall, as per the latest results of clinical trials conducted on 44,000 people. The developers revealed that the jabs were also 85 per cent effective in preventing severe cases of infection.
The EU has been facing a tough time with the inoculation drive. During mid-March, European countries including Germany, Italy, France, Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and several others halted their rollouts of AstraZeneca jabs after reports of serious blood clotting. AstraZeneca has been embroiled in controversy in Europe, with some governments initially even refusing to certify use for people aged over 65 despite scientific advice finding no reason for limits. Italy and Austria have also banned the use of shots from separate batches, while Bulgaria and Thailand have said that they would delay its rollout. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health had said in a separate statement that it decided to “pause” AstraZeneca vaccinations following the report of a death in Denmark as a result of a blood clot.
However, after some time when a preliminary review of people vaccinated with COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca was concluded, European Medicines Agency (EMA) committee, PRAC, announced that the medicine is "safe and effective”. According to the European Medicines Agency, those who received the AstraZeneca Coronavirus vaccine found no serious risk of blood clots (thromboembolic events) in their body. Furthermore, the EMA acknowledged that the vaccine can be linked to extremely rare cases of blood clots associated with thrombocytopenia, or low levels of blood platelets (elements in the blood that make it clot), either with bleeding or without it, including very rare cases of clots in the vessels draining blood from the brain (CVST).
Also, EMA affirmed, "However, in the light of its findings, patients should be aware of the remote possibility of such syndromes, and if symptoms suggestive of clotting problems occur patients should seek immediate medical attention and inform healthcare professionals of their recent vaccination”. As per EMA, there have been only a few cases reported related to this issue. It said that, as of now, around 20 million people in the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK had received the vaccine. Out of which, "only 7 cases of blood clots" and 18 cases of CVST (Cerebral Venous Sinus Thrombosis) have been reported.