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COVID19: Cyprus receives Janssen, keeps it on ice

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Cyprus’ vaccine arsenal against COVID-19 is enriched by the arrival of the first batch of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine but it will stay in storage for now.

Some 2,400 vaccines of the pharmaceutical’s Janssen vaccine will be put on ice as the Health Ministry has decided not to use it yet after it was linked to rare blood clotting incidents.

According to the Cyprus News Agency, the ministry has instructed the batch to be held back until final decisions are made, pending recommendation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Officials from the ministry told CNA there is no decision whether the vaccine will be administered in Cyprus.

“At the moment, it will remain on hold and will not be used,” said an official source on Wednesday.

The EMA is examining the possible link between the vaccine and thrombosis, stressing that “it is not clear at this time that there is a link between the vaccine and the clots”.

It continues to investigate the issue and consider what actions to take and what recommendation to give.

Europe’s drug regulator said earlier this week that it was reviewing rare blood clots in six people in the United States who received Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, a single-dose jab.

All cases reported in the US involved young women under 50 and were identified after some six million people had received the jab.

The EMA has also been looking at how AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is associated with very rare cases of unusual blood clots and is now reviewing reports of capillary leak syndrome in people given the vaccine.

Johnson & Johnson said it was aware of the reports of blood clots in individuals given its COVID-19 vaccine and was working with regulators to assess the data and provide relevant information.

The EMA in March gave the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine the green light as the EU seeks to speed up a stuttering inoculation campaign with Cyprus ordering 200,000 doses.

The Janssen COVID-19 jab is the fourth to be endorsed for use in the EU after Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford and Moderna.

Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is the first to be approved as a single dose.

Janssen works by preparing the body to defend itself against Covid-19.

It is made up of another virus (an adenovirus) modified to contain the gene for making the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein that it needs to enter the body’s cells.

The adenovirus passes the SARS-CoV-2 gene into the vaccinated person’s cells. The cells can then use the gene to produce the spike protein.