Nations mull pause on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine over blood clot reports

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There have been calls for pause on Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after the United States and South Africa have halted the rollout of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) amid reports of “rare but potentially dangerous blood clots.”

The advisory by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — citing a need to investigate reports blood clots — was “testimony to how seriously we take safety,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert was quoted as saying by news agency Associated Press.

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The pause comes as six women between the ages of 18 and 48 were found to have the blood clotting side effects, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration. The health agencies in the US said Tuesday they were investigating unusual clots in these patients who’ve received the Johnson & Johnson shot. One of the patients died and another remains hospitalised in serious condition, AP reported.

Following the recommendation of US agencies, South Africa also temporarily suspended the use of Johnson & Johnson vaccines citing concerns about rare and severe blood clotting side effects.

More than 289,000 people have received the Johnson & Johnson inoculations in South Africa and no adverse blood clotting side effects have been recorded as a result of the vaccine, health minister Zweli Mkhize was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, health agencies in Italy and Canada are also considering changing the immunisation plan. Italy’s AIFA could discuss the possibility of using Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) Covid-19 vaccine only for people over the age of 60, the head of the medicines agency reportedly told a paper on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

“We’ll see what it’s best use will be. We could discuss the possibility of reserving these (J&J) doses to people over the age of 60 since (blood clot) cases are again concentrated under the age of 50,” AIFA director Nicola Magrini told Il Corriere della Sera newspaper in an interview.

Canada too said that it in talks with the pharma firm over the blood clot reports. Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said a surge in virus variants could threaten progress made so far, Reuters reported.

Similar concerns were raised for AstraZeneca Plc Covid-19 shot after three people, who took the vaccine, were hospitalised in Norway with complaints of blood clots, bleeding and low platelet counts last month. AstraZeneca later said that a review of at least 17 million individuals suggested that the vaccine was safe for use and that that the blood clotting events were not related to the shot.

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