Slovenia halts Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine after woman's death

A registered nurse fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.
A registered nurse fills a syringe with the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.   -  Copyright  AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File
By Euronews  with AFP

Slovenia has halted the use of the coronavirus vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson over links to extremely rare blood clots.

Health minister Janez Poklukar announced on Tuesday that Slovenia will no longer use the jab.

Slovenia had suspended the use of the single-dose vaccine in September after a woman died of a brain haemorrhage, a few days after receiving a dose.

Experts have confirmed that the death of a 20-year-old woman was linked to the vaccine.

The panel stated that the woman had died of prothrombotic immune thrombocytopenia -- an extremely rare side-effect of the vaccine.

"This means that the currently provisional suspension of the Janssen [vaccine] will become permanent”, Poklukar said in a statement.

The health minister also expressed regret at the woman's death and sent condolences to her family and friends.

"There is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of the people we serve, and we carefully review reports of adverse events in individuals receiving our medicines or vaccines," Johnson & Johnson told Reuters news agency. 

"Any report about an individual receiving our COVID-19 vaccine and our assessment of that report is shared with the US Food and Drug Administration and other appropriate health authorities," it added.

In Europe, more than 16.3 million Janssen vaccines have been administered, with six deaths linked to the jab, according to Slovenia.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca has also been linked to extremely rare cases of thrombosis.

Only 54% of Slovenia's population have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, well below the EU average of 68%.

Since September, thousands of demonstrators have regularly gathered in the country to protest against restrictions and plans to make vaccination compulsory.