COVID19: Cyprus to administer Janssen vaccine

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Cyprus will start using the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson after health authorities gave it the green light to be included in the country’s vaccination rollout.

Some 2,400 doses of the single-shot vaccine were received earlier this month but put on ice, pending a European Medicines Agency (EMA) investigation into a handful of cases of thrombosis in the US after 7 million people were given the jab.

In comments to CyBC radio, acting head of the pharmaceutical services Elena Panayiotopoulou said the okay was given following EMA announcing the benefits outweigh the risk of very rare, potentially lethal blood clots.

On Tuesday, the EMA recommended adding a warning about rare blood clots with low blood platelet count to the vaccine’s product label and said the benefits of the one-dose shot outweigh its risks.

Panayiotopoulou said that more doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to arrive in Cyprus in the coming days.

She stressed the importance of getting a vaccine to prevent serious illness.

“It means the need for hospitalisation in intensive care units and intubation is reduced.”

COVID-19 patients in hospital wards reached a record 284, of which 68 were in a critical condition.

Asked to comment on people’s fears of AstraZeneca, Panayiotopoulou said it is proven that even after the first jab, a high degree of immunity is achieved.

Europe’s drug regulator said it would continue reviewing all vaccines, including Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine.

All blood clot cases reported in the US involved young women under 50.

The EMA also looked 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.

Cyprus has placed an order of 200,000 single-dose vaccines from Johnson & Johnson.