U.K. Approves Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

The UK Medicines Agency on Friday approved the use of the single-dose vaccines made by Johnson & Johnson, the fourth coronavirus vaccine approved in the country.

Approval comes amid growing concerns about the spread of a coronavirus variant, first discovered in India, in the UK. The number of cases of the variant known as B.1.617.2 has doubled within a week, according to public figures, and nearly 7,000 cases were recorded as of Thursday.

“This fourth approved vaccine expands our armory,” UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Twitter. “If you’re authorized, get your bump.” The UK has also approved the use of the vaccines manufactured by Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech.

More than 58 percent of the UK population have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and 36 percent have been fully vaccinated. The UK opened vaccination for adults 30 and older this week, but most of the vaccination campaign’s efforts in the past few weeks have focused on second injections.

According to the UK regulator, Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is 85 percent effective against serious illnesses from Covid-19.

The UK approval comes a day after Mexico approves the same emergency vaccine.

The Mexican government previously approved AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, as well as Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Sinovac and CanSino.

In other news around the world:

  • The Regional government of Madrid announced on Friday that it would use AstraZeneca’s second-dose vaccine for people under 60 years of age, contradicting a recommendation by the Spanish central government to switch to Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine for the second shot. While European Union regulators have stated that AstraZeneca’s vaccine is safe, it has continued to create tension in Spain, one of the countries that temporarily stopped its use after reports of blood clots in March.

  • The Indian The government is in talks with Pfizer to receive 50 million doses of the company’s coronavirus vaccine starting this summer, but continues to consider the drugmaker’s request for compensation for costs related to serious side effects.

  • Hong Kong No new coronavirus cases were registered on Thursday for the first time in seven months. This bodes well for Chinese territory’s efforts to quell a wave of infections that will begin in November. It has been more than a month for the city to record more than 15 daily cases and authorities are increasingly being urged to relax social distancing measures.

  • Vietnam ordered religious institutions to suspend large gatherings after a group of infections were linked to a Protestant community in Ho Chi Minh City that was part of a nationwide surge in cases. Of the more than 6,300 cases recorded in the Southeast Asian nation since the pandemic began, half occurred in the past month, the state-run Vietnam News Agency reported.

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