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Belgium puts Janssen vaccine on hold

American pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is pausing the distribution of its Janssen corona vaccine in the EU.  It has asked for the vaccine not to be used till there is a new recommendation form the European medicines Agency. The news comes after the American authorities halted the use of the vaccine amid concerns about blood clots.

So far nearly seven million people in the US have had the Janssen shot and six cases of blood clots have been reported.

 

The first supplies of the vaccine arrived in Belgium this week.  So far nobody has been immunised using it.

 

Johnson & Johnson has asked EU countries not to administer its Janssen vaccine until the European Medicines Agency makes a new recommendation.   The EMA will now only release a new recommendation next week, while earlier it was expected today.

 

The first shots of the Janssen vaccine were planned for the end of the week or next week.  Belgium's vaccination taskforce has decided to follow the company's advice and not to use the vaccine until there is an EMA recommendation.

The European Medicines agency EMA is now meeting to discuss this vaccine next week.  Belgium will take on board any EMA recommendation.

 

“Belgium’s vaccination campaign is running smoothly.  It’s important it moves ahead quickly with safe and effective vaccines” is the word from the federal health ministry.

 

Pausing the supply of the Janssen vaccine won’t have any short-term impact in Belgium.  Prof Van Damme says no further deliveries were expected during the next two weeks. “Unless vaccinations with the Janssen vaccine are halted altogether we probably won’t notice the delay.”

 

Pfizer is the main vaccine that is being used in Belgium and the company is supplying increasing numbers of doses.  “We’re receiving 3 million doses in six weeks.  Our vaccination drive won’t easily be driven off course as we can use AstraZeneca on over 55s and also have Moderna” says Van Damme.

 

Limiting the use of the Janssen vaccine e.g. for younger people would impact on plans after June.

 

Wednesday it emerged that Pfizer will be supplying 1.28 million extra doses of its vaccine to Belgium.  The additional supplies will arrive during the second quarter i.e. starting Aril. The extra Pfizers will be able to make good any shortfall caused by the pausing of supplies of the Janssen vaccine.

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