The Netherlands delays rollout of Janssen coronavirus vaccine
Following Johnson & Johnson’s decision to postpone their vaccine delivery to Europe and their advice to countries to not yet make use of any Janssen doses they had on hand, the Dutch government has announced it is awaiting the results of the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) investigation into the safety of the vaccine before rolling it out in the Netherlands.
Dutch government delays rollout of Janssen coronavirus vaccine
The past week has been a rollercoaster when it comes to coronavirus vaccine news. Last week, after pausing the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government announced it would only be used for people over the age of 60. Then on Tuesday, pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson announced that it was postponing the rollout of their vaccine in Europe after six reports of a rare form of thrombosis in the United States.
Wednesday saw both good and bad news when it came to vaccine rollout in the Netherlands: the government’s Coronadashboard revealed that the country had reached the significant milestone of four million vaccinations, and Johnson & Johnson advised all countries that had already received Janssen deliveries to hold off on using the doses until more is known about the potential side effects.
The Dutch government was quick to announce that it would be following Johnson & Johnson’s advice. On Wednesday afternoon, Health Minister Hugo de Jonge says he was waiting to take a decision about the vaccines until he knew the results of the EMA's research. “Safety comes first...it’s very annoying [to wait] but we shouldn’t panic right away. We just have to wait a week,” he said.
How will the delay impact the Netherlands' vaccination plan?
The Netherlands currently has 80.000 Janssen doses in stock, and was expecting to receive a total of three million doses in the second quarter of this year. The decision to delay the rollout of the vaccine could have significant consequences for the Netherlands’ vaccination programme, as 62.000 Jassen vaccinations are set to take place by the end of April.
De Jonge is hopeful that the EMA’s investigation will find the vaccine safe, but if the news is bad then he has calculated that, worst-case scenario, not having the Janssen vaccine will lead to a six-week delay to the national vaccination campaign. “But I do not at all assume that Janssen will drop out completely,” he said, “I am thinking more of a target group limitation."
The government’s vaccination plan relies heavily on the expected Janssen deliveries - 35.000 doses had already been put aside for healthcare workers under the age of 60, and De Jonge had hoped to use Janssen to make up for any delays caused by last week’s decision about AstraZeneca. The good news is that Pfizer announced on Wednesday that the EU will receive an additional 50 million doses of their vaccine before the summer.