Slovenia temporarily suspends use of Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine

Slovenia on Thursday temporarily suspended the use of the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson.

Health Minister Janez Poklukar said that the halt was a precautionary measure after the death of a 20-year-old woman.

“We are temporarily stopping until all details related to this case are clarified,” Poklukar told reporters in Ljubljana.

However, “benefits continue to outweigh the risks,” Poklukar added in a statement.

Slovenian media have reported that the woman was hospitalised in a serious condition on Monday, days after receiving the single-dose Janssen vaccine produced by the US pharmaceutical company.

The 20-year-old died of a brain haemorrhage and blood clots on Tuesday night.

According to Bojana Beović, who heads the group of experts advising the Slovenian government, “there could be an adverse link between the death and the vaccination,” but investigations were ongoing.

Four vaccines are currently authorised in Slovenia by the European Medicines Agency (EMA); Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Johnson & Johnson.

The country is set to introduce compulsory vaccination in the civil service on Friday, prompting an increasing number of vaccination appointments.

But just 47% of Slovenian adults have been inoculated, a much lower protection rate than the EU average of 64%.

Thousands of citizens demonstrated again on the streets of Ljubljana on Wednesday against the latest COVID-19 restrictions.

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