The Danish Health Authority (SST) announced the suspension in a May 3 statement. It said that "the benefits of using the [J&J] COVID-19 vaccine do not outweigh the risk of causing the possible adverse effect [of blood clots.] Therefore, the [SST] will continue the Danish mass vaccination program without the COVID-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson."
The statement noted that the decision to drop the J&J vaccine followed a review of international data conducted by Danish officials. A team of experts also contributed to the vaccine evaluation.
SST Deputy Director General Helene Probst said: "In the midst of an epidemic, this has been a difficult decision to make – especially since we have also had to discontinue using the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. However, taking the present situation in Denmark into account, what we are currently losing in our effort to prevent severe illness from COVID-19 cannot outweigh the risk of causing possible side effects."
In mid-April, the Nordic country said it would no longer use the AstraZeneca vaccine for its immunization program. The Danish health agency announced the ban in an April 14 statement on its website. "Based on the scientific findings, our overall assessment is that there is a real risk of severe side effects associated with using the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca. We have, therefore, decided to remove the vaccine from our vaccination program," SST Director General Søren Brostrøm said.
Both the AstraZeneca and J&J shot utilize an adenovirus vector to induce an immune response. However, the AstraZeneca vaccine requires two doses for protection while the J&J vaccine calls for only one dose.
Some patients in the U.S. have reported developing blood clots following vaccination with the J&J vaccine. American health authorities initially suspended the use of the J&J vaccine on April 13, but voted to resume its use less than two weeks later.
The single-dose COVID-19 shot had been linked to two patients developing blood clots. Nevada teenager Emma Burkey received the J&J vaccine on April 1 and experienced seizures on April 8, a week after her immunization. She subsequently underwent three surgeries to remove the blood clots that formed in her brain. Doctors managed to remove the clots and Burkey has since recovered.
Later, a 50-year-old woman died of a blood clot following her immunization with the J&J vaccine. The Oregon Health Authority said in an April 22 statement that the woman developed a "blood clot in combination with very low platelets." The state health department added that she got immunized before the April 13 ban on the J&J shot.
These two cases alongside some others led to a temporary pause of inoculations using the single-dose vaccine. But this would not be for long as authorities voted to resume its use. A FOX 5 report said advisers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lifted the suspension in a 10-4 vote on April 23.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky remarked: "Above all else, health and safety are at the forefront of our decisions. Our vaccine safety systems are working." She added that the public health agency had identified adverse events "out of millions of doses" of the J&J vaccine and will continue to monitor them.
The CDC's decision echoed that of the European Medicine Agency, which is in charge of regulating vaccines in Europe. During an April 20 meeting, the European regulator acknowledged the "blood clots and low blood platelets" linked to the J&J vaccine. However, it reiterated that "the overall benefits of [the J&J] COVID-19 vaccine … outweigh the risks of side effects." (Related: European regulators slap safety warning on J&J vaccine over deadly blood clots.)
J&J Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Paul Stoffels expressed his gratitude to the CDC's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) "for the rigorous evaluation of [the] COVID-19 vaccine."
"The [ACIP's] recommendation is an essential step toward continuing urgently needed vaccinations in a safe way for millions of people in the U.S.," Stoffels said.
"As the global pandemic continues to devastate communities around the world – we believe a single-shot, easily transportable COVID-19 vaccine with demonstrated protection against multiple variants can help protect the health and safety of people everywhere."
Visit VaccineInjuryNews.com to read more about the serious reactions caused by the J&J and AstraZeneca Wuhan coronavirus vaccines.