Friday 9 April 2021 2:25 pm

EU regulator probes possible blood clot risk with Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine

The EU’s medicines regulator has announced it will investigate possible links between rare blood clots and Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said it will review four serious cases of rare clots with low platelets in patients that had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — one of which was fatal.

Read more: France, Germany and Australia turn to alternative Covid vaccines amid Astrazeneca blood clot concerns

The Johnson & Johnson jab, produced by subsidiary Janssen, has been rolled out across the EU and the US in recent months.

It proved 67 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 during trials and completely effective at preventing hospital admissions and death from the virus.

Ministers last week signalled they would use the single-shot vaccine to innocculate young people in the UK in order to meet the government’s target of offering a first dose of a Covid vaccine to all adults in Britain by 31 July.

The Janssen jab is under review but has not yet received emergency approval by the UK’s medicines regulator. 

Britain has ordered 30m doses of the vaccine, which functions in a similar way to Astrazeneca’s Covid jab.

It comes after global drug regulators earlier this week expressed concerns over potential links between the Astrazeneca vaccine and an increased risk of rare blood clots.

The EMA ruled there was a “possible link” but said the benefits of receiving the jab continue to outweigh the potential risks.

But in a surprise turn, the UK’s medicines regulator went further and announced under-30s in Britain should seek an alternative vaccine where possible.

A review by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found that by the end of March, 79 people in the UK had suffered rare blood clots after taking the vaccine — 19 of whom died.

It said potential side effects were extremely rare, but that the risks remained greater amongst younger people. Nearly two-thirds of the cases were among women.

Read more: Sporting bodies back vaccine passports and Covid tests for return of live events

The review prompted the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the government’s advisory group, to recommend that people aged between 18 and 29 be offered an alternative vaccine where possible.

The JCVI insisted the recommendation did not amount to a ban on the Astrazeneca jab for young people, but merely “a preference” that they seek an alternative.