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Fact of use of AstraZeneca, J&J COVID vaccines

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(Reuters) -Following is an outline of countries that have restricted or suspended use of COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, after Europe confirmed possible links to rare blood clots.

J&J and AstraZeneca have stated that no clear causal relationship has been established between the clots and their vaccines. The European Medicines Agency has so far maintained that the benefits of both the shots outweigh any risks.

COUNTRIES USING THE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE WITH RESTRICTIONS

AUSTRALIA

Recommended on April 8 that people under 50 should get Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in preference to AstraZeneca’s.

BRITAIN

Vaccination committee has said an alternative should be given for people under 30 where possible, but that people who have received a first dose of the vaccine should get a second shot.

BULGARIA

Suspended use of vaccine on April 19 for women below 60 years who are at increased risk of thrombosis.

CANADA

Said in early April it would pause offering the vaccine to people under 55 and require a new analysis of the shot.

ESTONIA

Suspended use for people under 60 on April 7.

FRANCE

Is using vaccine only for people aged 55 and over. On April 9, recommended that people under 55 who have had a first dose of the AstraZeneca shot should receive a messenger RNA vaccine for their second dose.

FINLAND

Is using only for people aged 65 and over.

GEORGIA

Is using only in medical centres Russian news agency TASS reported on March 19.

GERMANY

Restricts use to those aged over 60. Recommended on April 1 that people under 60 who have had a first dose of AstraZeneca should receive a different second shot.

INDONESIA

Is using the vaccine but has warned against giving it to people with a low blood platelet count.

IRELAND

Said on April 12 it was restricting use of the vaccine to those over 60.

ITALY

Recommends use only for people over 60.

MEXICO

Drug regulator Cofepris said on April 7 it did not “at this time” plan to limit the vaccine’s use but was investigating the information raised by Britain.

NETHERLANDS

Said on April 8 it would limit use of the vaccine to people over 60.

NORTH MACEDONIA

Health minister said on March 31 the vaccine would be limited to people aged over 60 as a precautionary measure.

PHILIPPINES

Said on April 19 it would resume administering the vaccine to under-60s after having temporarily suspended use on April 8.

SOUTH KOREA

Resumed use of the shot for people aged 30 or older on April 12 after suspending use in under-60s on April 7.

SPAIN

From April 8, giving the vaccine only to people over 60.

SWEDEN

Using for people aged 65 and older.

COUNTRIES WHERE ASTRAZENECA VACCINE USE IS SUSPENDED

CAMEROON

Said on March 18 it was suspending administration of shots the country was due to receive.

DENMARK

Said on April 14 it would stop using the AstraZeneca vaccine, the first country to do so. On April 19, Ritzau news agency reported that authorities may permit people to choose to have the vaccine.

NORWAY

The government suspended administration of the shot on March 11 and is assessing whether to follow an Institute of Public Health recommendation to end its use.

J&J VACCINE – REVIEWS, DELAYS AND USE

EUROPEAN UNION

J&J said on April 20 it would resume rollout of the vaccine in Europe with a safety warning after regulators said they found a possible link to rare blood clotting issues but backed its overall benefits against any risks.

Use in the EU was not yet widespread as the company began deliveries only in the week of April 12. At least seven EU countries resumed use of the vaccine following the regulator’s decision.

COUNTRIES THAT HAVE RESUMED USE OF J&J VACCINE

UNITED STATES

Health regulators said on April 23 the country can immediately resume use of the J&J vaccine, ending a 10-day pause.

FRANCE

Government said on April 21 that it plans to start using the vaccine the following week.

GERMANY

The health ministry said on April 21 it will soon start delivering the vaccine to federal states for use in vaccination centres. On April 23, the country decided not to impose limits on use.

GREECE

Plans to start rollout on May 5 after suspending vaccinations on April 19.

ITALY

Health ministry on April 20 recommended the vaccine be used for people over the age of 60.

NETHERLANDS

Resumed use of the vaccine from April 21.

POLAND

Started administering the J&J shot on April 15, saying benefits outweigh potential risks

SOUTH AFRICA

Researchers hope to resume a study using the vaccine in the week of April 26, to immunise healthcare workers.

SPAIN

Spanish regions began using the vaccine to inoculate 70-79 year olds on April 22.

COUNTRIES WHERE RESTRICTIONS CONTINUE ON J&J VACCINE

BELGIUM

Delayed J&J rollout at the company’s request on April 14.

DENMARK

The health authority said on April 21 it expects to announce its decision the following week.

SWEDEN

The Public Health Agency said on April 19 it was extending its recommendation against starting vaccinations.

(Reporting by Pushkala Aripaka, Vishwadha Chander, Yadarisa Shabong, Manas Mishra, Amruta Khandekar and Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; editing by Catherine Evans and Frances Kerry)

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Canada allows Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 12-15

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(Corrects headline and lead to make clear that Canada was not the first nation as stated by Canadian officials, adds context from Pfizer in fourth paragraph)

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) –Canada is authorizing the use of Pfizer Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine for use in children aged 12 to 15, the first doses to be allowed in the country for people that young, the federal health ministry said on Wednesday.

Supriya Sharma, a senior adviser at the Canadian federal health ministry, said the Pfizer vaccine, produced with German partner BioNTech SE, was safe and effective in the younger age group.

“We are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she told reporters.

Sharma and a health ministry spokesman said Canada was the first country to grant such an approval, but a Canadian representative for Pfizer later said Algeria permitted use of the vaccine for this age group in April. The Canadian health ministry said it had no information about the discrepancy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to take a similar step “very soon,” U.S. health officials said.

Separately, authorities reported the third death of a Canadian from a rare blood clot condition after receiving AstraZeneca PLC’s’s COVID-19 vaccine. The man, who was in his sixties, lived in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick.

Jennifer Russell, the chief medical officer of health in New Brunswick, said the province would continue using the AstraZeneca vaccine. Alberta reported a death from clotting on Tuesday and Quebec announced one on April 27.

“There will be rare cases where thrombosis will occur. However, the risks remain minimal compared to the risks, complications and potential consequences of COVID-19,” Russell told reporters.

Canada‘s federal government has bought tens of millions of doses of vaccines but critics complain the pace of inoculation is lagging due to bottlenecks in the 10 provinces, which are responsible for administering the doses.

Alberta will become the first province to offer COVID-19 vaccines to everyone aged 12 and over from May 10, Premier Jason Kenney said on Wednesday, a day after he introduced tighter public health measures to combat a third wave of the pandemic.

Alberta, home to Canada‘s oil patch, has the highest rate per capita of COVID-19 in the country, with nearly 24,000 active cases and 150 people in intensive care.

Around 20% of the 1,249,950 cases of COVID-19 in Canada have been reported in people under the age of 19. Canada has recorded 24,396 deaths.

(Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto and Nia Williams in Calgary;Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Younger people filling up COVID-19 intensive care

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By Anthony Boadle

BRASILIA (Reuters) –COVID-19 infections continue to spread fast across the Americas as a result of relaxed prevention measures and intensive care units are filling up with younger people, the director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) said on Wednesday.

In Brazil, mortality rates have doubled among those younger than 39, quadrupled among those in their 40s and tripled for those in their 50s since December, Carissa Etienne said.

Hospitalization rates among those under 39 years have increased by more than 70% in Chile and in some areas of the United States more people in their 20s are now being hospitalized for COVID-19 than people in their 70s.

“Despite all we learned about this virus in a year, our control efforts are not as strict, and prevention is not as efficient,” Etienne said in a virtual briefing from Washington.

“We are seeing what happens when these measures are relaxed: COVID spreads, cases mount, our health systems become overwhelmed and people die,” she said.

Canada continues to report significant jumps in infections in highly populated provinces such as Ontario as well as in less populated territories of the North and Yukon, home to remote and indigenous communities, according to PAHO.

Puerto Rico and Cuba remain significant drivers of COVID-19 cases in the Caribbean, which is facing a new surge of the virus, PAHO directors said.

Cases are rapidly accelerating in the Guyanas and across Argentina and Colombia, where weekly case counts are five times higher today than they were this time last year and hospitals are reaching capacity in large Colombian cities.

In Central America, Guatemala is seeing significant spikes in cases and Costa Rica is reporting record-high infections.

While vaccines are being rolled out as fast as possible, they are not a short-term solution because they are in short supply, said Etienne, the World Health Organization’s regional director.

(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Alberta confirms first death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

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Reuters) -The province of Alberta reported its first death of a patient from a rare blood clot condition after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, its chief medical officer said.

Canada has reported at least five cases of blood clots following immunization with the vaccine, but public health officials maintain the benefits of the AstraZeneca shot outweigh the potential risks.

The Alberta case, of a woman in her 50s, marks the second case of blood clots, and the only death after more than 253,000 doses of AstraZeneca were administered in the province, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said in a statement on Tuesday.

“While any death is tragic, it is important to remember that the risks of dying or suffering other severe outcomes from COVID-19 remain far greater than the risk following AstraZeneca vaccine,” Hinshaw said.

AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for a comment.

Canada has had 1,243,242 confirmed coronavirus cases and 24,342 deaths, according to a Reuters tally

Last month, the province of Quebec reported Canada’s first death of a patient after receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

AstraZeneca, working with the vaccine’s inventor Oxford University, was one of the leaders in the global race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. Its cheap and easily transportable shot was hailed as a milestone in the fight against the crisis, but has since faced a series of setbacks.

The rare complication, which some regulators including Health Canada are calling Vaccine-Induced Prothrombotic Immune Thrombocytopenia, involves blood clots accompanied by a low count of platelets, cells in the blood that help it to clot.

Dozens of countries paused the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in March after reports of rare, but serious, blood clots. Several of them have now resumed use either fully or with restricions after health regulators said the benefits of the shot outweigh any risks.

(Reporting by Vishwadha Chander and Sabahatjahan Contractor in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Angus MacSwan)

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