The United States, South Africa and European Union suspend use of the Johnson & Johnson jab to investigate reports of rare blood clotting.
Hundreds of thousands of doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were due to arrive in European countries where supply shortages have been a constant issue.
But now, the use of this vaccine has been “paused” while an investigation into potentially dangerous blood clots is carried out.
In the US, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced that they were looking into unusual clots in six women between the ages of 18 and 48.
One person has already died.
Initially, the J&J vaccine was hailed because it required a single-dose and was relatively easy to store, but now the company is delaying its rollout in Europe, with South Africa also suspending use of the jab.
This latest setback in the fight against COVID-19 comes after a possible link was found between AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine and a similar rare blood clotting problem.
Despite the potential risk, immunology experts and U.S. officials have stressed that the danger posed by the J&J vaccine appeared extremely low.
More than 6.8 million doses of the jab have been administered in the U.S., and the vast majority have suffered little or no side effects.
The J&J vaccine was given the green light at the end of February, but other vaccines such as Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have been more widely used.
According to the White House, there is enough supply of Pfizer and Moderna shots to hit President Joe Biden’s goal of administering 200 million shots during his first 100 days in office.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top expert on infectious disease in the US, said the pause would allow the FDA and the CDC to investigate the clotting cases and “to make physicians more aware of this.”
Acting U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Janet Woodcock said the agency expected the pause to be a matter of days. It is also providing information to healthcare providers on how to diagnose and treat the clots.