Thursday 10/28/21

THL stocks 30,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses awaiting EU assessment

A new review on the use of the drug by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is expected next week.
A healthcare worker draws a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen in Mutilva during the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus disease of the participants of the 2020 Summer Olympics. Photo: Europa Press/EUROPA PRESS/dpa
A healthcare worker draws a dose of the vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen. Photo: Europa Press/dpa.

About 30,000 doses of the vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson arrived in Finland during the past three weeks.

However, these vaccines have not been used or distributed to hospital districts, but are kept in storage at the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) until a decision on their use is made.

The Johnson and Johnson (or Janssen) vaccine is the first single-dose vaccine to reach Europe, but its roll-out was delayed by mid-April after its use was temporarily halted in the United States due to the detection of rare cases of blood clots.

All of the reported cases occurred in combination with low levels of blood platelets. They happened mostly in women under 50 years within the first three weeks after the vaccination.

A few days later, on 20 April, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a statement in which it backed the use the drug and stressed that the cases detected are very few and that the benefits of its use outweigh the risks. The EMA said it would continue to monitor the situation and collect more data.

As a result of that statement, several countries of the European Union began to use the jab.

Finland is not among them. Not at least until they read the EMA's new assessment, which will likely be released next week.

A new review

The health authorities will consider the inclusion of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine in the Finnish vaccine programme "after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has issued its own recommendation on the vaccine."

"Many other countries are now drawing up their own recommendations for the use of the vaccine and the EMA is expected to issue a new review on vaccine safety next week," THL said in a press release.

Research has indicated that the Johnson and Johnson vaccine effectively protects against the Covid-19 disease and gives good protection against serious cases caused by virus mutations.

However, THL also reminds that rare cases of blood clotting problems have emerged among recipients in the United States, where the vaccine has been extensively used.

"The clinical picture of the disturbances resembles that of one of the adenovirus vaccines, AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria," THL emphasizes.

In the United States, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine had been given to nearly eight million people as of last Friday. Among them a total of 15 rare cases of blood clotting were reported, mostly among women under the age of 50. The vaccine continues to be administered to those over the age of 18.

A minimum age of 65 years has been in place for the AstraZeneca vaccine.