The first 2,400 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) have arrived in Iceland. Authorities have however decided to delay its use until more information is available about its possible side effects. U.S. federal health agencies recommended pausing the use of the vaccine earlier this week after six recipients developed a rare disorder involving blood clots. Janssen is delaying the rollout of the vaccine to Europe.
Authorities Wait for More Information
Iceland’s Chief Epidemiologist Þórólfur Guðnason told Vísir the potential side effects reported from the Janssen vaccine are similar to those reported with the AstraZeneca vaccine. “We will wait to use the vaccine until we have better information,” Þórólfur stated. “We will wait with the vaccine and see if we can use it for certain groups that we believe are not at risk from the vaccine as we are doing with AstraZeneca.”
The COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by AstraZeneca and Janssen are based on viral vector technology, unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. While the European Medicines Agency determined a causal link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and rare instances of blood clots, it nevertheless ruled the benefits of the vaccine to outweigh the risks and recommended its continued use.
Could Delay Vaccination Efforts
Iceland expects to receive a second shipment of the Janssen vaccine later this month, making for a total of 4,800 doses in April. The vaccine is administered in a single dose, meaning the April shipments are enough to fully vaccinate 4,800 people. If health authorities recommend against the use of the vaccine, Þórólfur stated it would delay Iceland’s vaccination efforts, which aim to inoculate 75% of the population by the end of July.
“I hope there won’t be any delay even if we stop using it for a few weeks. However, if the final result is that it is too risky to use the vaccine, it will affect the big picture,” Þórólfur stated. Iceland has ordered 230,000 doses of the Janssen vaccine, one of six vaccines the country will acquire through European collaboration. So far 61,134 have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in Iceland, 16.58% of the population.