EU to rule on J&J shot safety as virus wave grips India

Europe's drug regulator was expected to rule Tuesday on the safety of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine after fears it could be linked to extremely rare blood clots, while India said it will make shots available to all adults as battles a terrifying wave of infections.

The United States is also expected to announce its decision on the single-shot J&J vaccine by Friday, as nations around the world try to accelerate their rollouts and revive their pandemic-ravaged economies.

But the number of reported clots were "extremely small" compared with the 4.5 million J&J shots administered worldwide, the EMA has said.

Fauci said Sunday he believed the US would resume use of the jab, possibly with some restrictions or warnings.

The EMA described those clots as a "very rare" side effect, stressing that the AstraZeneca jab's benefits outweigh the risks.

That desire was on display in EU member Slovakia on Monday, where shops, museums, libraries and swimming pools reopened after a lengthy lockdown, bringing big crowds onto the streets.

"We have been very busy since the morning, but I am very happy that we can cut hair again," said Martin, a Bratislava barber.

India, home to 1.3 billion people, is battling a worrying surge, with record daily case numbers overwhelming already stretched hospitals and medical supplies.

Similar measures have been taken in other Indian states, adding to the woes of people already reeling from the economic pressure of the pandemic.

"Last year I was stuck here for 50 days," said tailor Hari Shankar, referring to the strict coronavirus lockdown India imposed last year.

Experts have warned that religious festivals, including the Kumbh Mela attended by millions of pilgrims, and packed state election rallies in India had become "super-spreader" events -- and some have said mass vaccinations are the only long-term solution.

There are concerns, however, that vaccine inequality between wealthy and poor nations will further complicate and prolong the pandemic.

The 18-year-old donated 100,000 euros ($120,000) from her foundation to the Covax scheme, which is helping with global access to vaccines -- especially in poorer countries.

But the World Health Organization's emergency committee said it was against international passengers being required to have proof of vaccination -- a proposal being mulled by numerous countries.

But the threat of the virus being spread by international travellers was brought into sharp focus in Hong Kong, where at least 49 passengers on a single flight from India tested positive.


Originally published as EU to rule on J&J; shot safety as raging virus wave grips India

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