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World

EU to rule on J&J shot safety as raging virus wave grips India

  • That desire was on display in EU member Slovakia on Monday, where shops, museums, libraries and swimming pools reopened after a lengthy lockdown, bringing big crowds onto the streets.
20 Apr 2021

AMSTERDAM: Europe's drug regulator was expected to rule Tuesday on the safety of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after fears it could be linked to extremely rare blood clots, while India said it will make shots available to all adults as battles a terrifying wave of infections.

The United States is also expected to announce its decision on the single-shot J&J vaccine by Friday, as nations around the world try to accelerate their rollouts and revive their pandemic-ravaged economies.

The European Medicines Agency was due to hold a press conference from Amsterdam on Tuesday, after reviewing four cases -- one fatal -- of rare blood clots reported among people who got the J&J shot.

But the number of reported clots were "extremely small" compared with the 4.5 million J&J shots administered worldwide, the EMA has said.

That comparison echoes the comments by top US pandemic advisor Anthony Fauci, who described the clots as "an extraordinarily rare event".

Fauci said Sunday he believed the US would resume use of the jab, possibly with some restrictions or warnings.

The J&J vaccine concerns follow similar reports of blood clots in a very small number of people who received the AstraZeneca shot.

The EMA described those clots as a "very rare" side effect, stressing that the AstraZeneca jab's benefits outweigh the risks.

The leaders of Europe are keen to accelerate vaccinations and expand availability after facing intense criticism over a sluggish rollout and with the public desperate for a return to some degree of normality.

That desire was on display in EU member Slovakia on Monday, where shops, museums, libraries and swimming pools reopened after a lengthy lockdown, bringing big crowds onto the streets.

Hairdressers were in particularly high demand.

"We have been very busy since the morning, but I am very happy that we can cut hair again," said Martin, a Bratislava barber.