The United Kingdom’s medicines regulator has authorised the use of the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen’s single-shot vaccine, the fourth vaccine the nation has approved so far.
The coronavirus vaccine, which is produced by Jannsen in Belgium, has already been used in several other countries, including the United States. The United Kingdom has ordered 20 million doses of the single-shot injection, which was approved by The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on Friday.
It joins the Moderna, AstraZeneca and Oxford University, and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines already approved by the UK.
Britain’s embattled Health Secretary Matt Hancock hailed the development on Friday afternoon, in remarks reported by London’s Evening Standard as: “This is a further boost to the UK’s hugely successful vaccination programme, which has already saved over 13,000 lives, and means that we now have four safe and effective vaccines approved to help protect people from this awful virus.”
Hancock made clear in his remarks that while most people in the United Kingdom had already had two injections of a coronavirus vaccine, the new doses being ordered were “potentially” for the continuing vaccine programme, where theoretically fully protected people would continue to receive “booster” shots in the future. It was discussed by top government figures as long ago as February that Britons could need a third coronavirus vaccine injection, and even annual boosters thereafter.
While the United Kingdom was the first country in the world to authorise a coronavirus vaccine in December 2020, with elderly Brits being the first members of the public to get the shots anywhere, it has been slower to authorise the Janssen jab, which has already seen use elsewhere.
The ES reports this delay is due to concerns elsewhere about what are described as “extremely rare” blood clots seen after vaccination. Indeed, Britain’s regulatory approval of the J&J jab comes just two days after Belgium suspended the vaccine following a death from what Reuters reported to be “severe side-effects associated with the shot”.
The United States “paused” the use of the Janssen jab in April over what the Food and Drug Administration called “reports of serious adverse events of a type of blood clot in the large blood vessels in the brain”. It later resumed the use of the shots, noting “the known and potential benefits of Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine outweigh its known and potential risks… the available data suggest that the chance of this serious adverse event occurring is very low, but investigation into the level of potential excess risk due to vaccination is ongoing.”
The UK’s MHRA reassured Britons that they had assessed the shot as “safe and effective”, with chief executive Dr June Raine saying in a statement seen by Breitbart London: “Our work does not end here. We are continually monitoring all COVID-19 vaccines in use once they have been approved to ensure that the benefits in protecting people against the disease continue to outweigh any risks.
“The safety of the public will always come first – you can be absolutely sure of our commitment to this.”