EU regulator approves Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot Covid vaccine
The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has authorised Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine, in a major boost for the EU’s vaccine portfolio amid ongoing shortage disputes.
The EU medicines regulator today announced its recommendation for the J&J vaccine to be used in all over-18s “after a thorough evaluation” of data found the jab met the criteria for efficacy, safety and quality.
“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, EMA’s executive director.
In its statement, the EMA said the vaccine made by Janssen, a subsidiary of J&J, was about 67 per cent effective.
It makes the J&J jab the fourth Covid jab to get the green light from the EU regulator, after vaccines made by Pfizer, Astrazeneca and Moderna received emergency authorisation earlier this year.
The EU has signed a deal with the world’s largest pharmaceuticals firm to deliver 55m doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to the bloc in the second quarter of the year,
The move will come as a major fillip for the EU amid ongoing political wrangling over vaccine shortages across the continent.
Only 8.5 per cent of EU citizens have received their first dose of a Covid vaccine so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s Covid-19 Vaccine Tracker. The figure is as low as 7.4 per cent in France and 7.5 per cent in Italy.
In comparison, more than 23.8m people in Britain — equivalent to 35 per cent of the UK population — have received their first dose of a coronavirus jab.
The EU has pointed the finger at vaccine manufacturers Astrazeneca and Pfizer for rowing back on agreed orders for the sluggish rollout.
Pfizer has not yet delivered around 10m doses that were due in December, leaving the bloc around a third short of agreed doses.
Meanwhile, the EU earlier this week said it will urge the US to permit the export of millions of doses of the Astrazeneca vaccine to Europe as Brussels scrambles to paper over supply shortfalls.
The EU this morning announced it has extended export controls on Covid vaccines until the end of June as it looks to boost its own vaccine programme.
The export authorisation scheme allows customs agencies to block Covid-19 vaccine exports out of the bloc unless they receive emergency authorisation from national governments within the EU.
It comes after Italy last week announced it had blocked the shipment of 250,000 doses of the Astrazeneca vaccines to Australia, after the British-Swedish drug manufacturer failed to meet its EU contract commitments.
The move has sparked a furious tit-for-tat between the EU and UK over so-called “vaccine nationalism”, with European Commission president Charles Michel accused Britain of hypocrisy.
Michel refused to apologise this morning for his false claim that the UK has implemented an “outright ban” on the export of vaccines out of Britain.
He told Politico: “There are different ways to impose a limitation or a ban. There are different ways, not only via one executive order or via one legislation”.
The Prime Minister slammed Michel’s comments as incorrect, telling MPs: “Let me be clear: we have not blocked the export of a single Covid-19 vaccine or vaccine components.”