The EU’s drug regulator has given its backing to the Covid-19 vaccine produced by American pharma giant Johnson & Johnson. The single-shot vaccine has also been approved by the EU, meaning it can now be rolled out in the bloc.
On Thursday, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine became the fourth to be recommended to the EU by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), after the jabs developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca.
“With this latest positive opinion, authorities across the European Union will have another option to combat the pandemic and protect the lives and health of their citizens,” said Emer Cooke, the EMA’s executive director. “This is the first vaccine which can be used as a single dose.”
Following the EMA’s decision earlier Thursday, the European Commission just hours later granted a conditional marketing authorization for the J&J jab – the next step in a vaccine’s rollout before EU member states can access bloc-secured doses or purchase more.
The bloc’s contract with Janssen, signed in October, is for an initial 200 million doses in the second quarter of 2021, with the option for governments to purchase another 200 million doses.
The EMA noted that the single-shot jab was found to be 67 percent effective in reducing symptomatic Covid-19 cases two weeks after the vaccine was administered.
The firm’s study involved more than 44,000 people, registering 116 infections out of 19,630 people who received the vaccine, compared with 348 cases in the 19,691 people who were given a placebo.
The jab’s side effects were considered mild or moderate and usually subsided within a few days.
The news comes as a number of countries around the EU have suspended their use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after a number of recipients developed blood clots. The EMA and the UK have dismissed the link with the vaccine, but further investigations are being carried out.
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