Norway says AstraZeneca and J&J Covid vaccines should only be offered to volunteers for shot

Norwegian health regulators say Covid vaccines made by AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson should only be offered to people who volunteer for the shots. 

The country’s Institute for Public Health recommended neither should routinely be used because of ‘serious side effects’, with both jabs linked to a tiny risk of suffering serious blood clots. 

But Norway’s advisory committee claimed the vaccines should be made available for people willing to accept the risk. Government officials are set to make a final decision later today.

Data on clots has spooked health chiefs across Europe, with Denmark stopping the use of the jab completely and other nations restricting its use to older age groups. 

Britain has already recommended all under-40s should be offered an alternative to the Oxford-made jab — but only because infection rates are so low.

UK health chiefs say the benefits of the two-dose jab for younger adults, who rarely get very ill with Covid, no longer clearly outweighs the risks.  

Regulators say the risk of suffering a blood clot after the jab is vanishingly small, but is higher in younger age groups at an estimated one in 60,000. Clots are happening alongside low platelet levels, a condition named thrombocytopenia.

J&J’s single-dose jab has also been linked to the same rare complication. However, it has yet to be approved for use in Britain.  

It comes after their roll-out was suspended on March 11

Norwegian health authorities say the AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson vaccines should only be offered to people willing to get the jabs

Norway says it will have enough Pfizer shots to inoculate its adult population of almost five million by the end of July. Britain is relying on AstraZeneca and Pfizer's vaccines to hit the same deadline

Norway says it will have enough Pfizer shots to inoculate its adult population of almost five million by the end of July. Britain is relying on AstraZeneca and Pfizer’s vaccines to hit the same deadline

Norway suspended the roll out of AstraZeneca’s vaccine on March 11, after health regulators spotted eight rare blood clots out of 130,000 people jabbed. Four of the affected recipients died.

This equated to a risk of about one in 20,000. For comparison, the chance of finding a four-leaf clover is around one in 10,000, according to Cambridge-based scientist and published author David Bradley.

J&J’s Covid vaccine uses the same technology as AstraZeneca’s, but the clot complication is likely even rarer. Studies in the US where it has already been dished out to millions, suggest the risk may be as low as one in 500,000. 

The European Medicines Agency has approved both vaccines, but said they should carry warnings about the possibility of blood clots.

Norway says it will still be able to get a first dose to all its 4.3million adults by the end of July, without the J&J or AstraZeneca vaccines.

It has ordered 8.4million shots of the two-dose mRNA Pfizer vaccine — or enough for 4.2million people — and will also receive several thousand doses of Moderna’s jab. 

Lars Vorland, who chaired the committee, said situations where the AstraZeneca jab could be offered may include when an immigrant wants to travel to a country with high infection ratesBritain has already said under-40s should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca shot (Pictured: Jonathan Van-Tam making the announcement)

Lars Vorland, who chaired the committee, said situations where the AstraZeneca jab could be offered may include when an immigrant wants to travel to a country with high infection rates. Britain has already said under-40s should be offered an alternative to the AstraZeneca shot (Right: Jonathan Van-Tam making the announcement)

GERMANY TO OFFER JOHNSON AND JOHNSON JAB TO ALL AGE GROUPS 

Germany is to make Johnson & Johnson’s Covid vaccine available to all adults.

The country’s Health minister Jens Spahn announced the plans today, adding the shots will be offered on the advice of a doctor. 

Europe’s drug regulator backed J&J’s vaccine last month after examining cases of a rare blood clotting issue in U.S. adults who received a dose. 

But it left it up to the European Union’s member states to decide how to use it.

Germany’s move to offer the J&J single-dose vaccine widely follows the lifting of restrictions last week on the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The AstraZeneca shot had been earmarked for people aged over 60 following similar reports of very rare but sometimes fatal clotting events in younger people, with women disproportionately affected.

Lars Vorland, who chairs the country’s vaccine advisory committee, told a press conference today that Norwegian regulators were split over how to dish out the AstraZeneca and J&J vaccines.

‘We have discussed examples such as an immigrant in Norway whose family is ill in a home country with rapid spread of the virus,’ he said.

‘If given good information, and the person still wishes to travel, then he or she may be given this vaccine outside of the general national vaccination programme.’

Dr Vorland revealed that four of the 11 scientists on the panel had voted for the jab to be given to anyone who is happy to take it.

Camilla Stoltenberg, the director of the NIPH, said it was clear the ‘rare but serious’ side effects of the AstraZeneca jab were also associated with J&J’s shot.

‘It is clear that the rare but serious side effects that we have seen with AstraZeneca also appear with the use of Janssen,’ she said.

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